digital knowledge. digital culture. digital memory.


Internet 101 for media professionals

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Editors may be interested in sending their reporters to attend a two-hour workshop/crash course to learn about Internet and Internet-related issues.


Internet has no doubt become the way of communication in modern day civilisation. According to one source of global statistics, ( ), Internet usage in Oceania (including Australia) exploded by 142% between
2000 to March 2007.

In Fiji, growth in Internet usage between 2000-March 2007 was 833.3%. This means more and more people – your readers and audience - are going "on-line". It also means they are going to get exposed to Internet-related issues.


The Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC) invites you to ATTEND "INTERNET 101 FOR MEDIA PROFESSIONALS", A TWO HOUR WORKSHOP, FREE OF CHARGE, for media people interested in covering Internet-related issues. Learn what is the Internet anyway and why it is changing the way we think and do business.

This Workshop will be on Wednesday 1st August 2007 at the Forum Secretariat Committee Room A, Suva, Fiji, from 10am to 12pm.

This workshop has the support of the Forum Secretariat and SOPAC.

RSVP: Mue Bentley, MueB(at)forumsec(dot)org(dot)fj, tel: 3312600, Franck Martin franck(at)sopac(dot)org

Photo by: [hdy]**


Fiji Rugby Blog hits Wordpress list

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For the second time this month (see here for the first), a Fiji blog has hit one of the top 100 lists of the blogging giant Wordpress. On July 14, 2007, the Fiji Rugby Blog, brainchild of columnist Rusiate Mataika, appeared in the 35th position in the Growing Blogs list.

They are wedged between a Swedish blog and a blog advocating the abolition of wealth. The Fiji Times had this to say:

This is a remarkable achievement spurred by the creative juices of local sports writer Rusiate Mataika and internationally renowned but locally based web design firm Webmedia Fiji.
[Fiji rugby blog gains momentum, Fiji Times, July 20, 2007]
Keep up the great work, Rusi!

Let me also give a little praise here to one of Fiji's "oldest" and most prolific bloggers. Gilbert Veisamasama, Jr has been running two very active blogs since January of 2006:These two blogs are invaluable sources of information that is difficult to find elsewhere. Check them out!

Photo by: huygens


Internet safety - are your kids safe online?

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The reality

Internet safety is not really a hot topic for parents and educators in Fiji - but it should be. Like the streets of Suva, the Internet is home to schools, galleries and museums, sports, silly fun, libraries, shops, and everyday people having everyday conversations. And also like the streets of Suva, the good things on the Internet share space with foul language, crime, violence, prostitution, and just plain bad people. While adults may fend for themselves on the mean streets online, children deserve and need the protection of their parents and educators.

One study carried out on Internet using girls in New Zealand in 2001 drew chilling conclusions.
The girls were age 11-19 and all living in New Zealand when they completed the survey.
  • 68.5% were using the Internet most days.
  • 33.5% have had a personal face-to-face meeting with someone they met on the Internet.
  • 60% had done at least one potentially unsafe behaviour. (35.5% gave out personal information e.g. address/phone no., 26.5% sent a photo of themselves to someone they met, and 14.5% had posted a picture of themselves on the Net.)
  • 95.5% use the Internet at home, yet 75% state that their use of the Internet at home is only occasionally (37.5%) or never (37.5%) monitored by an adult.
  • 44.5% use the Internet at school, yet 58% state that their use of the Internet at school is monitored only occasionally (28.5%) or never (29.5%) by an adult.
  • 22.5% report having felt unsafe or threatened while using the Internet (most commonly from sexual threats)."
[The Internet Safety Group, Girls on the net, 2001]
Understanding the dangers

Parents and educators need to be aware of the three classes of threats faced by children online.
  1. Content threats - Content threats involve children being exposed to inappropriate or undesirable information, images, or digital audio/video recordings online. Such content ranges from pornography, violence, culturally objectionable ideas, or just plain incorrect information. For example, a child searching for information on "galleries" for a school project will find nudity and pornography.
  2. Social threats - Social threats involve children being exposed to phishing attempts (attempts by online criminals to collect personal information about Internet users), the growing problem of cyber-bullying, or worst of all, online sexual predators. For example, adults have posed as children in chat rooms in order to gain children's trust.
  3. Technical threats - Technical threats include inadvertently downloading computer viruses and spyware that can harm your computer and your data, leak personal information to online criminals, or allow criminals to take over your machine. For example, some computer viruses allow attackers to take control of your computer including reading all of your files and emails.
The solution

There are many software packages available claiming to keep kids safe (see here for a partial list), and parents and educators should utilize these as appropriate. However, and I cannot emphasize this too much, there is no substitute for a combination of supervision, education, and "street smarts".
  • Supervision - Supervised kids are safe kids. Parents should be actively involved in their children's Internet usage. See my three step home Internet safety program below.
  • Computer literacy - While a degree in Computing Science is not necessary, a fundamental understanding of computers, mobile phones, and the Internet can help children, parents, and teachers avoid many basic problems online. These would include: not visiting untrusted websites, not downloading files from untrusted sources, not opening email attachments from untrusted sources, not plugging your USB stick into untrusted computers, keeping your computer up-to-date with software patches, and operating and updating your anti-virus software, to name just a few fundamentals.
  • Information literacy - Information literacy refers to your ability locate information online, navigate to it, and ultimately evaluate its usefulness. This is a subtle skill that allows children and adults alike to see the difference between a fact and an opinion online, compare the information in two similar websites, understand the difference between a real person and a Hi5 persona, and how to find an expert on a subject. Information literacy also includes understanding how information can be properly used in order to avoid violating copyright law and charges of plagiarism at school.
  • Online street-smarts - Just as kids can learn to react safely to the pitfalls of urban living, parents and teachers can prepare children to react safely to the dangers of the Internet. Once shown how, even young children can identify chain letters, spam email, and even most common phishing scams. See my three rules of online street smarts below.

Further reading
Fortunately, the Internet is rich with resources on Internet safety. Here are few places to start:
  • NetSafe ( A New Zealand non-profit organization dedicated to providing Internet safety education.
  • The Family Online Safety Institute ( An international organization focused on Internet safety. FOSI manages a self-regulated Internet content filtering scheme formerly known as The Internet Content Rating Association.
  • i-SAFE Inc. ( A US organization promoting and coordinating a variety of Internet safety activities.

Photo by: richardmasoner


What was on the laptop?

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Nobody likes to loose something that costs two or three thousand dollars, which is the typical cost of a laptop these days. However, when a laptop goes missing from an important government office, the replacement cost should be the least of anyone's worries. Technology can be replaced but the damage done by stolen information can be irrevocable.

Sometime during the afternoon or evening of Friday, July 6, 2007, a laptop, a mobile phone, and other items, possibly including a USB cable, went missing from the Office of the Prime Minister in the Government building in Suva. This fact has been widely reported on by all major media outlets in Fiji. Commentary from government officials, police, and journalists seem to focus on outrage that the PM's office was violated and the new security measures being put in place to ensure that this incident is not repeated in the future. This reaction can be summed up by comments from former Prime Minister Rabuka carried by the Fiji Times.

The theft from the Prime Minister's Office was tantamount to sacrilege and a serious crime against the State, said former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka yesterday. He said such a breach of security never happened during his tenure and it pointed to the need to upgrade security.
[Security concern in the PM's office, Fiji Times, 11/7/2007]
However, the question that no one is asking is, what was on the laptop? What information from the highest office in the country is now "in the wild"? What government information may be lost forever if the laptop was not recently backed up?

Shortly after I arrived in Fiji approximately one year ago, the theft of a government laptop from an employee's home was reported in my home town of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It turns out that this laptop contained mental health information for over a thousand patients in the Province of Alberta. Neither the laptop nor the data were recovered.

What motivated a government investigation resulting in a twelve page public report into this incident was not the question of whether the employee or her employer failed to adequately protect public physical assets, i.e. the laptop. The government inquiry was focused on whether the employee or her employer failed to adequately protect confidential patient data. The investigation found that the employer, a regional health management organization, had failed in its responsibilities - chiefly through having inadequate policies in place - and was required to inform all 1000+ patients that their files had been compromised.

The investigation report went on to make the following general recommendations to all government departments in the province of Alberta who use mobile computing equipment such as laptops.
  • Perform a Privacy Impact Assessment (which should include an assessment of security risks) before implementing mobile computing.
  • Do not store personal or health information on mobile computing devices unless you need to – consider technologies that allow secure, remote access to your network and data instead.
  • If you must store personal or health information on a mobile device, use encryption to protect the data – password protection alone is not sufficient.
  • Keep the amount of personal or health information stored on mobile computing devices to a minimum, based on your business needs.
  • Periodically check your policies against practice to ensure they reflect reality and remain effective.
  • Provide specific training on mobile computing to staff to ensure they understand the risks and understand how to protect their equipment.
[Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta, Report of an Investigation Concerning a Stolen Laptop Computer, December 5, 2006 - pdf file]
These recommendations are valuable to all organizations with sensitive information stored on laptops and other mobile devices, both in the public and private sectors. Organizations in Fiji would do well to consider adding similar provisions to their information security policies. You do have an information security policy, right?

Photo by: Filipe Morin


Infamous Fiji blog hits Wordpress top 100 list

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Most of the world's bloggers are typing away in relative obscurity having very few readers beyond a few family and friends. Most of Fiji's bloggers are no different drawing only single digit readerships daily. I have been grinding away at Digital Fiji for roughly a year now and I can only boast of a daily readership of around 40 unique readers daily with occasional spikes to over 100 whenever I write something reasonably interesting.

It will not surprise anyone that Fiji's anonymous political blogs, which exploded onto Fiji's blogosphere shortly after the 2006 coup, draw much more of an audience than Digital Fiji. However, who would of thought that one of Fiji's most controversial anti-military blogs would rate among the "top blogs" of the world? Why Fiji Is Crying, which I recently blogged about, has done just that.

This screen shot is taken from the Wordpress Top Blogs page today. You can see Why Fiji Is Crying sandwiched between YOU BEEN BLINDED and Tennis Planet. What does this mean? It is hard to say. Wordpress's page says that they top blogs are "ranked here according to a special formula". The formula is not revealed.

This certainly demonstrates that Fiji's anonymous political blogs, with all of the questions that they raise, are extremely popular - in fact, Why Fiji Is Crying is likely the most popular blog in Fiji.

P.S.: If you are interested in trying to draw more readers to your own blog, check out Matt Huggins' 55 Essential Articles Every Serious Blogger Should Read. Keep blogging!


Just for you: new Digital Fiji feeds

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Way back in September 2006, I was writing here about website syndication, ATOM feeds, and everything RSS. The Fiji blogosphere has radically changed since then making my aggregated Fiji blog feed next to useless. It would be an interesting exercise to put together an new Fiji blog aggregator - which is something that I may take on in the future.

In the mean time, I have been playing around with the Digital Fiji feed, or should I say feeds (plural)! Through the miracle of Feedburner, which was just taken over by Google, I have put together three separate feeds to the content of this site. The first one provides access to all of the Digital Fiji posts, such as the one you are reading, the second provides access to all of the Digital Fiji comments, and the third provides access to the very dynamic Digital Fiji quick links content that you can see on the right hand column of the blog (I now use to manage that, incidentally). Subscribe by clicking the buttons below:
  • Digital Fiji posts
  • Digital Fiji comments
  • Digital Fiji quick links
I recommend that most readers sign up for both the posts and quick links as, while the posts are great, I only write about one a week, whereas the quick links are updated several times a day on most days. And if you are already subscribed to the old Digital Fiji feed, please switch to one or more of the new ones.

And since there are many people in the world who are not interested in RSS readers, all of these feeds are now available by email as well. Click the links below to get the sign-up form:

Sign up and get notified of all activity on this site. Enjoy your feed surfing!
Photo by: kk+


Fiji VoIP policy workshop - July 12, 2007

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This is an important announcement (see the full text below). The advent of VoIP in Fiji is a major event in the history of ICT in Fiji. What is VoIP? It stands for "voice over Internet protocol" which is a collection of technical standards for allowing voice communications, such as telephone calls, to take place across the Internet. Typically, once all the problems have been worked through, this results is a dramatic reduction in the cost of telephone calls - especially long distance calls - to consumers.

How VoIP works

Back in Canada, I was able to sign up with a VoIP provider and make as many local or long distance phone calls anywhere within North America for CDN$40 per month. The expensive reality of transoceanic data communications will likely ensure that Fiji does not see costs this low any time in the near future. In the mean time, if you have Internet access and a microphone for your computer, you can already use VoIP through services like Skype and Gizmo. (The technologically adventurous will want to check out asterisk.)



Thursday 12 July 2007 (Southern Cross Hotel)
Time: 9.00am 4.00pm


The changes brought about by the rise in IP-enabled communications are by nature revolutionary. Developments in such services have reduced communication cost and spur innovation and individualization. Through this means communications services are delivered as demanded by each end user via an attractively priced suite of services and not necessarily limited within the confined of the legacy network. Generally IP-enabled services and VoIP will generate increased demand for more broadband connections, fostering development and growth in this area.

Governments awareness about developments in Internet Protocol (IP_ enabled applications and services, in particular those concerning Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and its impact on our social and economic fabrics has necessitated its initiative in developing its policy directions in respect of the provision of VoIP service in Fiji. These directions are enunciated in the VoIP policy of Government.

Cabinet agreed to the substance of the VoIP Policy at its 12th Meeting on Tuesday 16 June 2007.

The VoIP Policy is premised on ensuring Governments facilitative and supportive role towards the provision of VoIP service and the establishment of related necessary licensing and regulatory parameters to promote on orderly transition into this dimension.

Workshop Objective

In connection with the approved VoIP Policy, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment and Communications is organizing a one-day workshop on Thursday 12 July 2007 that is intended to enlighten interested stakeholders on the following-

• Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

• VoIP Policy of Government

• Provision of VoIP Service

• Licensing

• Numbering

• Regulatory aspects

• Implementation of the VoIP Policy

Workshop Material

All presentation documents and a summary of the discussions at the workshop will be posted in the Department of Communications website within the Fiji government On-Line Portal that is accessible via the following link


All interested stakeholders are welcome to attend the one-day workshop.

Department of Communications
Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment & Communications
P.O. Box 2264, Government Buildings, Suva
Telephone: 330 0766
Facsimile: 331 5167

Photo by: o2ma