Purrfect politics: Stop Tony Meow to give historians paws for thought

Browser extension Stop Tony Meow has been selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia, as part of its archive documenting cultural, social, political life.


For those unfamiliar, the web plug-in’s function is all in the name: it replaces any image it can identify as Tony Abbott with one of a kitten.

Pandora, the web archive established and curated by the National Library of Australia, has preserved more than 39,000 websites since its creation in 1996.

Created to “document the cultural, social, political life and activities of the Australian community and intellectual and expressive activities of Australians”, it has previously archived federal election coverage, political party websites and Royal Commission hearings.

For developer Dan Nolan, it was a “weird” but wonderful surprise for Stop Tony Meow to join such lofty company.

Mr Nolan said they were told about the decision several days ago, almost one year after the idea for the app was dreamt up by his co-creator Matt Kelsh.

“Given there was wall-to-wall coverage of Abbott everywhere, he was kind of getting a bit sick of his face,” he said.

“He decided to throw out on Twitter whether someone could make a browser extension to replace pics of Tony Abbott with pics of cute kittens.”

Fuelled by the internet’s obsession with both politics and cats, Mr Nolan said the plug-in took off.

“We’re over 100,000 installs, which is pretty bloody impressive,” he said.

“It’s pretty heartening.”

But it seems the staff at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet may not be cat people – workers spent more than 130 pages of correspondence discussing the app.

The Department also charged more than $700 for Mr Nolan to access those pages when he filed a Freedom of Information request earlier this year.

Mr Nolan said he, Mr Kelsh and their third collaborator Ben Taylor had since stalled their attempts at obtaining the information.

“We ended up not proceeding down that line and ended the FOI process, out of bureaucratic frustration,” he said.

But given the recent news, Mr Nolan said it may be time to try again.