12 episodes

Catch up with the best discussions and reflections from The Interrobang: a new festival driven entirely by your questions, from the Wheeler Centre.

The Interrobang The Wheeler Centre

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Catch up with the best discussions and reflections from The Interrobang: a new festival driven entirely by your questions, from the Wheeler Centre.

    Is the concept of a country obsolete?

    Is the concept of a country obsolete?

    Responding to a huge volume of questions on borders, refugees and migration, Geraldine Brooks, Tom Elliott, Voranai Vanijaka and Mark Colvin search for insight and progress on this charged and crucial subject.

    'I've had a lot of experience in places where people squander a great deal of human life fighting over five metres of sand. For me, the less borders, the better.'Geraldine Brooks

    As a nation composed mostly of migrants, modern Australia’s relationship with refugees and asylum seekers runs deep: through regional and global wars, famine and disaster, and economic and political upheavals. In recent years, that discussion has become increasingly polarised and fearful. Meanwhile, asylum seekers continue to suffer in conditions that most people agree are unacceptable, cruel.

    Throughout all this, Australia’s challenge and policy response has made world news. Now, with Europe’s dramatic influx of refugees mostly from Syria, the question has renewed urgency – of a kind that demands answers beyond the obfuscation of politics.

    Left to right: Geraldine Brooks, Tom Elliott, Voranai Vanijaka and Mark Colvin

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    • 1 hr 2 min
    What is the best way to destroy the internet before it destroys us? Cory Doctorow and Alan Brough

    What is the best way to destroy the internet before it destroys us? Cory Doctorow and Alan Brough

    It has to be said: the cat pictures might not be enough. The internet definitively sucks sometimes. It’s a willing and fertile host to our most objectionable prejudice, anger and desire; an open marketplace for exploitation, child porn and illicit drugs and weapons. It provides a container for our greed, impatience and emotional evasiveness, and its liberating potential often feels like a false promise buried in a much larger mountain of disconnection, voyeurism and social media-fuelled narcissism.

    Even the feelgood and useful bits are compromised – our tracked behaviour is sold to advertisers, while security agencies like the NSA have been found to spy extensively on … well, almost everybody.

    Cory Doctorow

    In that light, is it blind and foolish to defend the internet – or does idealism provide a corrective vision? What gives this incredible technological structure its potency? What does the internet offer in terms of political freedom and social mobility, privacy and big data, and broadcasting and publishing and political change – and what does it cost us?

    Blogger, science fiction author, Electronic Frontier Foundation special advisor and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow speaks with multitalented and beloved broadcaster, writer and director Alan Brough about whether we should really destroy the internet – or whether it instead needs our protection.

    Your tweets:

    ‘We have yet to articulate a coherent way of thinking about security and the internet.’ @doctorow#askinterrobangpic.twitter.com/0gaaUEKlRQ— The Wheeler Centre (@wheelercentre) November 28, 2015

    Lack of disclosure with digital security leads to failure. ‘This is how every alchemist ends up drinking mercury.’ @doctorow#askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    .@doctorow is talking about very surprising ways in which industries co-opt governments to protect their IP, and generate $. #askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    Computers in everything: digital locks for protectionist practices, anti-circumvention rules feed the beast. Ergh @doctorow#askinterrobang— Kate B. (@eyeofbast) November 28, 2015

    "We haven't reached peak surveillance. There's plenty of ways the internet could be creepier. Like wifi Barbie." @doctorow#askinterrobang— steph harmon (@stephharmon) November 28, 2015

    Mass surveillance operates on the principle that watching another individual costs nothing. @doctorow#askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    We need to have spaces that are not ‘on the record’ in order to have social progress. @doctorow#askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    "When the Beatles co-opted other cultures it was called art. When Public Enemy co-opted the Beatles, it was theft" @doctorow#askinterrobang— steph harmon (@stephharmon) November 28, 2015

    ‘I’m incapable of making predictions. I’m a science fiction author.’ @doctorow#askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    ‘Our mission, if you care about this stuff, is to try and get other people to care before it’s too late.’ @doctorow on digital security.— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    Watching @doctorow continue to fight the good fight thanks to @askinterrobang. It’s depressing and empowering at the same time.— Josh Kinal (@sealfur) November 28, 2015

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    • 1 hr 3 min
    What’s the ‘good’ in the good fight? Questions for ethical thinking in strange times

    What’s the ‘good’ in the good fight? Questions for ethical thinking in strange times

    If we peel back religion, politics, economics and other big players in our collective pursuit of the ‘common good’ … what do we end up with? How are our ideas of goodness formed – and can they ever be agreed upon?

    The panel: Mark Colvin, Anne Summers, Alan Duffy, Raimond Gaita and Gregory Phillips

    As globalisation and technology draw the world closer together, they’ve also revealed chasms in how we relate to each other as nations, cultures and individuals – and how we resolve conflicts. What happens when good intentions are incompatible?

    Raimond Gaita, Anne Summers, Gregory Phillips and Alan Duffy come together to seek out and dissect practical questions of ethics: are there basic values or ideas of goodness or fairness that we can all share? What, specifically, are they? What even is ‘ethical’, should we strive for it – and can there be a middle ground? Hosted by Mark Colvin.



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    • 1 hr 19 min
    When is Australia racist? Questions of difference and fairness

    When is Australia racist? Questions of difference and fairness

    Australian racism is a slippery thing. We’ve seen it (at the football, on a bus with a singing French tourist, in select policies of successive governments, at anti-something protests). We know it exists. But as a nation – a deeply multicultural one, arguably defined by migration – we haven’t progressed to a realistic understanding of who we are, what that means and what we thus expect of ourselves and each other.

    The panel: Benjamin Law, Voranai Vanijaka, Nakkiah Lui, Gregory Phillips and Abdul AbdullahWhen is Australia racist? Questions of difference and fairnessWatch

    Watch the video of this conversation

    How do we distinguish our ideals from the real world? Is mainstream Australian – whatever that means – capable of living up to its own myths? Let’s not let subcultures off the hook, either. What draws our meanest impulses out of hiding? When do we laugh about our differences … and when do they come to define us?

    With artist Abdul Abdullah, writer and comedian Nakkiah Lui, Aboriginal health expert Gregory Phillips, journalist and political commentator Voranai Vanijaka and Gaysia author Benjamin Law, we’ll explore Australian equality on a number of fronts: representation, social support, sex and decision-making. Our panellists consider what it might take to achieve a culture that reflects a true picture of Australia back to itself – and what we’d be losing if we didn’t.

    Your reactions

    @wheelercentre is #askinterrobang panel sess When Is Australia Racist? pic.twitter.com/WdwBhDfkik— Melissa O'Donovan (@SoulGroundau) November 28, 2015

    Does Australia market and export an image of 'us' as Multicultural and more than just a white image #askinterrobang— Monique Toohey (@MoniqueToohey) November 28, 2015

    Greg Phillips crystal clear on Aust not dealing with colonisational genocide & the legacy that hangs in power strictures #askinterrobang— Kristin Alford (@kristinalford) November 28, 2015

    @MoniqueToohey Who is the We? Who is the You?That was never defined in the session.— Melissa O'Donovan (@SoulGroundau) November 28, 2015

    @SoulGroundau@stephharmon No, in regards to my Aboriginality— Nakkiah Lui (@nakkiahlui) November 28, 2015

    "I've never felt Australian" - @nakkiahlui. Perhaps Aboriginal... but that is a white construct, doesn't represent culture #askinterrobang— Kristin Alford (@kristinalford) November 28, 2015

    It's false to say everyone is racist - Greg Phillips. Lots of cultures are accepting of difference, it comes down to values #askinterrobang— Kristin Alford (@kristinalford) November 28, 2015

    Racism is structural. Ethnocentrism is what need to be mindful of and overcome. Identify the dynamic & call it out #askinterrobang— Monique Toohey (@MoniqueToohey) November 28, 2015

    'There is no such thing as reverse #racism. Reverse racism presumes there is egalitarianism.' @gregoryabstarr#askinterrobang— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    Whiteness: cultural blindness to see ones own advantage & benefit in society #askinterrobang#noroomforracism— Monique Toohey (@MoniqueToohey) November 28, 2015

    @stephharmon@askinterrobang@voranai#askinterrobang How is that reverse? Reverse would be beating up yourself because of someone's race— Paul (@paulkoan) November 28, 2015

    Strands of industrialisation & capitalism are inseparable from racism in this discussion - they shapes resources & values.
    #askinterrobang— Kristin Alford (@kristinalford) November 28, 2015

    Cultural intelligence is needed to improve intercultural relations social cohesion, health & education outcomes & innovation #askinterrobang— Monique Toohey (@MoniqueToohey) November 28, 2015

    'When is it racism and when is it white supremacy?' @nakkiahlui asks at #askinterrobang— BitterSweet (@spoonfulofthyme) November 28, 2015

    Can cultures with strong social and environmental consciences also be racist? #askinterrobang— Ayan Dasvarma (@amravsad) November 28, 2015

    Where can we create spaces

    • 58 min
    Why are people nicer when it’s your birthday? Questions of relativity and hope

    Why are people nicer when it’s your birthday? Questions of relativity and hope

    How are you?

    Such a habitual, everyday question remains one of our most difficult to answer honestly and fully. Where do we even begin? Are we ever possessed by just one state or feeling? What moves the tides of our emotional lives?

    'Friendships are chosen. Family are not chosen. By definition, if something's chosen, it's chosen for certain kinds of reasons … the concept of friendship and the concept of being a father, a mother, a sister or a brother … they have standards. They're not always the standards of morality.'Raimond Gaita

    In a thoughtful discussion to address our very large – and more nuanced – human dilemmas, Raimond Gaita, Jane Caro, Benjamin Law, Kristin Alford and Sammy J  interrogate our search for meaning and contentment within our own circumstances (including gender, cultural background, upbringing and socio-economic position). Why happiness rather than contentment? Why does a part of us want to destroy what we love? Are we born happy, spending our lives defending that, or are we born neutral – destined to spend our lives trying to attain happiness?

    How is it possible to be incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time? Our Brains Trust attempt to resolve the complicated experiences of satisfaction, kindness and contradiction.Your tweets

    Why are people nicer to you on your birthday? They are thankful that you exist #askinterrobang#speccypic.twitter.com/lluaYkyPrB— Sue Hogg (@planetsuzie) November 28, 2015

    Jane Caro advocates for realistic lower expectations so that it'll be easier to find happiness. #askinterrobang— Shannon Hick (@Toast_forDinner) November 28, 2015

    "The baseline for happiness is remarkably easy to achieve" - how much do we really need to be happy? @mrbenjaminlaw at #askinterrobang— Rose Johnstone (@RoFloJohnstone) November 28, 2015

    ‘What sort of friend are you; do you think you should be? What do you offer?’ @kristinalford#askinterrobangpic.twitter.com/BiebbLmVXx— The Interrobang (@askinterrobang) November 28, 2015

    Do soul mates exist & what are the chances of meeting them? RaiGaita jumps in 'she's sitting right there' audience weeps 💗 #askinterrobang— Shannon Hick (@Toast_forDinner) November 28, 2015

    'The concept of #friendship and the concept of being a father, or a mother, or a sister, or a brother – they have standards. They're not always the standards of #morality, because #love can sometimes compete with morality … the idea that you can have friendship without the possibility of guilt strikes me as foolish; like the idea that you could have love without the possibility of sorrow.' #RaimondGaita, exploring questions of relativity and hope at 'Why are people nicer when it's your birthday?', part of #askinterrobang today.

    A photo posted by The Wheeler Centre (@wheelercentre) on Nov 27, 2015 at 6:36pm PST

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    • 55 min
    One last question: Cheryl Strayed, on jumping off mountains

    One last question: Cheryl Strayed, on jumping off mountains

    As part of The Interrobang, Cheryl Strayed – author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things – shares a story of her children leaping, literally, into the unknown.

    'When I contemplated the question of the relationship between words and actions,' she begins, 'I thought about a recent experience I had with my kids. For the last two summers, I've gone to the little town of Chamonix, France. I teach a writing workshop there every summer, and it's one of those little villages in the Alps with just a few city streets – and all around you are these beautiful, high snowy peaks. The first summer we went there, my kids were eight and nine. Chamonix in the winter is a skier’s paradise, but in the summer that are basically two things to do: hike, or go to the top of the mountain and jump off with nothing but a kite on your back.'

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    • 12 min

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