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Adelaide's thinkers in residence: Genevieve Bell « Previous | |Next »
January 23, 2009

I have a lot of respect for Adelaide's Thinkers in Residence program run by the Rudd Government. It is a good program: innovative, diverse and serious about ideas in the area where public policy meets every day live and there has been a long commitment to it. But it is so low fi in the global digital world that we live. What does that say about Adelaide? That we don't have a ‘broadband’ culture?

The latest person in residence is Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist and Director of User Experience in Intel Corporation’s Digital Home Group in the United States. She is is interested in the human component of technology, the importance of culture in the adoption and adaptation of technology and the digital home. The blurb says:

Genevieve will focus on the ways in which South Australians are using new technologies in their everyday lives. Through extensive research she will help to shed light on new opportunities for broadband and associated communication technologies in South Australia and beyond.

That's it. No links. No blog. No links to the research Bell has done or her lectures. No links to the public policy context for this project about our digital future.Not even links to links to Intel's technology blog, which Bell writes for.

No connection to the Creative Economy portal, which indicates that the internet is an evolving sociotechnical system, rather than simply a technology. No links to the relevant work being undertaken by the ARC Cultural Research Network. No mention of the urban informatics. We are presented with a digital vacuum.

All we have in the way of extra links is sharing stories So what happened on the first visit? We have no real idea apart from this public lecture entitled The Many Futures of our Digital Lives from November 2007. It refers to images but we have no access to the images. Yet we live in a mediascape where pictures dominate text. Even state politicians know that, given their strategies of media management.

See what I mean by low fi? It is ironic given that this Bell's project is about digital futures in Adelaide. We are not even given any idea about how the digital future of Adelaide is envisioned by this program, yet this program has been framed by a public policy context. What we can infer is that Adelaide is on the margins of a digital economy, and that there is little of a different way of thinking about one of the dominant technology infrastructures of this decade taking place here. We have no idea of the new opportunities for broadband and associated communication technologies in South Australia, even though Adelaide is a for- runner in free wireless hot spots in Australia----a wireless commons---thanks to Internode.

Paul Caica, the Science and Information Economy Minister in SA, says that:

Dr. Bell will identify opportunities, spaces and barriers for the further uptake of technologies for economic and social development. She will take into consideration a cross-section of the population, and in line with this, Dr. Bell will spend significant time working with regional and remote communities, Aboriginal people, and people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Fair enough, but nothing about culture or the creative economy there. So how is this going to generate debate about our current and potential uses of broadband wireless technology in Adelaide?

Should we infer that digital users should not provoke and challenge assumptions that shape deployments and imaginings of wireless connectivity and internet use in Australia? Or to propose new ways to frame critical inquiry into the design, technology and culture of domestic contexts? I guess we have to make our own spaces.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:33 AM | | Comments (4)


Will the 'digital home' be the same is the 'paperless office'?

I've been in contact with the Thinkers in Residence office to speak with her as an industry leader in SA (as defined by B&T Magazine) and they have blatantly blocked me, all I wanted was to help connect her ideas with some kind of action and the community interested.

Maybe the people in the Thinkers in Residence Office know little about the Creative Economy portal, the relevant work being undertaken by the ARC Cultural Research Network or the urban informatics.

They are not digital natives. Should we expect them to be? After all, it is the ALP that is pushing for mandatory internet filtering. The internet is seen as the badlands peopled by outlaws and that is causing a moral panic amongst working families in the suburbs. So we need a Great Australian firewall.

Best not to step into the badlands.

maybe the ministers do not allow the bureaucrats to venture into the badlands that is the internet.

Or maybe every proposed link has go through a committee and be reviewed?