Australia 2020 does not haz teh internetz

How clueless are Australia’s “best and brightest” about the Internet? “Completely”, it seems. The “governance” section of the Final Report of the Australia 2020 Summit mentions the Internet just twice seriously.

Here’s what our finest minds had to say…

The “circus” of question time doesn’t give a positive view of parliament or promote confidence in the system. The community should be able to contribute questions to parliament. This could be achieved by greater use of technology such as the internet.

… and…

Government doesn’t seem to be using the internet. It could be such a powerful forum but is currently under-used in the government context.

Yes, Dear Clever People, it could be, and it is. Glad you noticed.

So what else did they have to say about the most significant factor to affect civilisation in, oh, 300 years?

In the chapter on creativity and the arts we have…

Creativity that has been unleashed through the web and internet was discussed, the focus being on the highly democratic nature of the format and the very good signs of creativity that are available to anyone who has access to computers. One participant suggested that if we were to embrace that we would have a good perception of the centrality of creativity. Another proposed that the digital environment had produced a big change in perception, and that they would not be talking about forms that have only substance and pricing. Yet another commented that the government is very interested in embracing broadband infrastructure.

Discussion moved on to the idea of digitising all museum collections and all Australian print. ‘Digitise and then what happens?’ was asked. The answer included live broadcasts on the net and leveraging what children already do and showing them a pathway to creative careers. The question of what happens with visual arts not on the internet was raised, and the answer included linking net content with popular culture.

… and a money-grabbing idea…

Pay 1 per cent of gross revenue from telecommunication companies, internet service providers and other content providers into a government cultural fund for artistic endeavours.

For our indigenous Australians:

Connect families to the internet and the digital world. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should have safe internet access when they start school, if not earlier.

Yes. what wonderful idea. Black people can have the Internet as well. How clever you must feel for suggesting that. Later someone observed…

It was acknowledged that digital media and the internet allow people to continue to
participate in the arts following formal education.

Gosh. I’m getting quite giddy now. Under “health” we have…

Many services will be able to be provided via the internet. It will help us cut down isolation.

And under “strengthening communities” the outcome of “standardisation of regulation and services” could be assisted by…

Development of a website (with a mail-out version for those without internet access) that provides an illustrative map of Australia that progressively charts climate change impacts.

Ah, you mean like this one?

I get the feeling that no-one had any clue about this Internet thing apart from:

  1. There is a thing called the Internet.
  2. The Internet is important.
  3. You can do stuff on the Internet.

I haven’t quoted every mention, but it doesn’t get any better. If this report represents what Kevin Rudd’s “best and brightest” understand, then Australia is well and truly fucked.

[Hat-tip to Stephen Loosley for drawing my attention to this.]

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12 comments

  1. bojan’s avatar

    Gee someone’s bitter about not being accepted…

  2. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @bojan: No, actually. If I’m bitter about anything — that is, at a personal level — it’s because I didn’t see how it was being stacked politically sooner than I did. Certainly the first-hand comments of many participants expressed disappointment at the process.

    If you read the report, I think you’ll find very little that is truly groundbreaking. Or can you point to something which is groundbreaking?

  3. Stephen Collins’s avatar

    As disappointed as you and I (and I’d hazard most of the crowd we jointly know) are, are you really surprised?

    We know and have experienced first hand the failure of government to engage online. I frankly no longer have an expectation of competence on the part of Australian governments when it comes to the Internet.

  4. DaSuthNa’s avatar

    and what about the writing style of this report? No disrespect, but it reads like a Year 7 poster display. What’s going on there?

  5. Speedicut’s avatar

    “Here’s what our finest minds had to say…”

    Didn’t you mean:

    “Here’s what our finest minds — and Corinne Grant — had to say…”?

    As someone who can barely control a Blogger template I can’t cast aspersions on others lack of tech nous. What strikes me is the huge information gap between folk like yourself who get the pc/web/comm thing on almost a molecular level and the rest of us. This will obviously change in the future, meanwhile it’s interesting to see the varying rates of tech take up amongst different age groups and occupations.

  6. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Stephen Collins: No, I’m no surprised. I’m starting to become resigned to the disappointment too. Maybe I’m being silly, but I actually expect our leaders to, you know, lead… [sigh]

    @DaSuthNa: Agreed. It’s hardly “deathless prose”. Maybe that’s why politicians never act on report recommendations: they fall asleep before the good bits.

    @Speedicut: It’s this gulf of understanding that really hit me both at PubCamp and the Politics & Technology Forum. All these thoughts are rumbling around the back of my head while I work at clients’ premises this week, and will eventually disgorge themselves into an essay. Some time.

  7. Simon Slade’s avatar

    I am not terribly surprised by this — as the use of computers becomes more a part of everyday life, it often seems to me that fewer users than ever actually know much about how anything works.

    I suppose it is a lot like cars — many people out there cannot change a tyre, put oil or coolant in, or refill the windscreen washer bottle! But they know how many cupholders they have!

    As an example, I know a MS Word wiz. She can even get automatic numbering to work within styles!! But I asked her one day “where did you save that document?” and got the reply “In Word.” I assumed that, in order to have a high level of skill with Word, she must know about files, folders etc, but no.

    And my personal favourite is the call for help I got one day from a friend:

    “I need help, the Internet is broken.”

    Now there are two claims in that sentence, and only one of them was right! 🙂

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