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Digital Culture Links: September 15th 2010

Links for September 10th 2010 through September 15th 2010:

  • Myths of the NBN myths [ABC The Drum Unleashed] – Stilgherrian rebukes the common myths associated with the National Broadband Network, showing their false logic and short-sightedness. A good read.
  • The Rise of Apps Culture [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – New Pew study shows Apps are emerging, but far from ubiquitous just yet: “Some 35% of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones, yet only 24% of adults use those apps. Many adults who have apps on their phones, particularly older adults, do not use them, and 11% of cell owners are not sure if their phone is equipped with apps. Among cell phone owners, 29% have downloaded apps to their phone and 13% have paid to download apps. “An apps culture is clearly emerging among some cell phone users, particularly men and young adults,” said Kristen Purcell, Associate Director for Research at the Pew Internet Project. “Still, it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell owners do not know what their phone can do. The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users.””
  • The Agnostic Cartographer – John Gravois [Washington Monthly] – Interesting article looking at the politics behind all maps, but especially Google Maps – trying to create one definitive map for the world, when so many maps are bound to particular nations, politics and cultures, means a lot of diplomacy or a lot of disputes (both are currently happening).
  • musing on child naming and the Internet [danah boyd | apophenia] – (Unborn) kids and digital footprints: “I am of the age where many of my friends are having kids and so I’ve been exposed to more conversations about what to name one’s child than I ever could’ve imagined. I’m sure people have always had long contested discussions with their partners and friends about naming, but I can’t help but laugh at the role that the Internet is playing in these conversations today. I clearly live in a tech-centric world so it shouldn’t be surprising that SEO and domain name availability are part of the conversation. But I’m intrigued by the implicit assumption in all of this… namely, that it’s beneficial for all individuals to be easily findable online and, thus, securing a fetus’ unique digital identity is a tremendous gift.”
  • ‘That is so gay!’ [ABC The Drum Unleashed] – Matthew Sini on Stephanie Rice’s recent Twitter controversy: “A certain tweeting swimmer used the word faggot recently in a haphazard, inelegant and wholly unconscious way the other day. As many Rice-lovers have vocally pointed out, the intention behind the word choice was clearly not to insult. But that is the point. When you can use this sort of language in such a casual way, you have displayed an ignorance of very material prejudice and a history of oppression and suffering. Both Stephanie Rice, and me and my friends, make light of this history of suffering, but the difference is Rice does not acknowledge it when making light. She can only be accused of ignorance. In the same way that many ‘kids today’ use the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ or some cognate of it to describe something that is undesirable.”
  • FarmVille – Facebook application metrics from AppData Facebook Application Metrics [AppData] – Statistics for Farmville use in terms of the Facebook plugin. 83,755,953 all-time high for monthly users to date.
  • App Store Review Guidelines [Apple – App Store Resource Center] – Apple releases their guidelines for reviewing Apps for the Apple App store. Finally, developers can figure out exactly what they need to do to ensure their Apps are accepted, and critics can evaluate how Apple wield their power in policing the iWalled Garden.

On the folly and farce of the Coalition’s broadband policy in Australia

broadband As part of their election campaigning, the Coalition yesterday released their $6billion broadband plan for the next eight years. To say the very least, it’s a bad policy, filled with either technical errors or misrepresentations, and does nothing to situate Australia as a major player in a digital economy. Earlier today I spoke with Travis Collins on RTR FM’s Morning Magazine about the Coalition policy.


It’s fair to say that the coalition’s approach to broadband is one of contempt and ignorance; you only need to watch our potential Prime Minister, Tony Abbott struggle to give any meaningful answers about the policy on last night’s 7.30 Report to see this is an area in which no significant thought or time has been invested. The ad hoc patchwork policy proposed simply milks a tiny bit more out of existing cables and infrastructure, with no long-term planning, no long-term development and a completely unrealistic assumption that private industry will want to invest in national fibre-optic infrastructure. As Mark Pesce clearly argues, there are speeds that can only be achieved, maintained (and, if needs be, expanded) using fibre; wireless and existing copper cables just can’t stretch much further, but the massive investment needed here is surely a national government priority.  We don’t expect private enterprise to fund the national roads; the government invests in these because it allows traffic to move across the country.  I would argue that the best way to understand our broadband needs are the same: get a high-speed network in place, and the investment, innovation and development will come.  Without it, innovation will stall and Australia’s position in the digital economy will be one of weakness and embarrassment.

Industry responses to the Coalition’s plan have been unanimously negative, with the only kind comments being for the one element that replicates a section already in Labor’s National Broadband Network plan. Indeed, David Braue’s recap on ZDNet of the Coalition’s last 24 hours of broadband discussion makes it crystal clear that they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to broadband, the internet, or most other things to do with telecommunications in Australia.  What is clear is that the Coalition’s plan would ensure Australia has one of the slowest internet capacities of any Western (and many other) countries today and for many years to come.  Sure, their plan is cheaper, but not buying things that you actually need is never a good policy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think the time and energy Senator Conroy has wasted on an ineffective and unwelcome national internet filter is incredibly disappointing, but Conroy has already back-pedalled substantially, deferring the filter until a review of the Refused Classification ratings system in Australia. (And, implicitly, setting up this, or the likely senate balance of power going to the Green’s, as a way of saying he did his best on this promise, but was blocked by others.) In the meantime, the NBN is the best thing Conroy has worked on, and the current Labor NBN plan is a million times better for Australia, ensuring speeds that allow Australians to participate in the best, brightest and fastest developments online, rather than living in the slow, crawling digital backwater which could see Australia at the mercy of a new new tyranny of distance, lagging behind in the international digital economy.

[Photo by Manchester-Monkey CC BY SA]