Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 31. Day 243. Droning on

Fun facts I learned today.
1. Elephants are actually afraid of buzzing insects. I thought that was something cartoonists had invented.
Apparently not. Sally French, AKA The Drone Girl, revealed this during a special presentation to QUT journalism students.
Sally, a Californian native and drone journalism expert, is in Brisbane this week for the World Congress of Drones. This is way too much of a good thing for me to let slide. So I invited her to the campus and she agreed to come. Score. In a wide ranging presentation Sally talked about the good, the bad and the ethical of drones, especially when in the hands of journalists. We learned that rather than shoot elephants who encroach on valuable crops, farmers had learned to take advantage of the elephants' fear of buzzing animals. The drones simulate the insects and herd the elephants away. Drones also have a role to play in whale conservation. Fun Fact 2. Tiny drones known as snot bots can collect DNA samples from the snot whales blow out. This is in equal measures gross and awesome. Drones can be used by journalists in environmental stories, natural disasters, search and rescue, sports or protests. The important thing is not the drone but the footage and what you do with it. The drone isn't the story and nor is the footage alone. It's what you do with it. As drones become cheaper and easier to operate, the questions of how they can be safely and ethically used become greater. This is why I need one NOW. How can I possibly teach this without a drone. The catalogues are wrong. Drones are not the must have gift for Dad this Father's Day on Sunday. They are the gift every mum who just happens to be a journalism lecturer deserves.

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