Preliminary comments on BSEG report
Mon, 6 Mar 1995 13:36:21 +1000 (EST)
On Mon, 6 Mar 1995, Marius Coomans wrote:
> We simply can't fill a decent broadband network with more of what the Net
> offers. We need additional "high production value" content that is
> impractical to produce on an "Internet Shoestring". This will almost
> inevitably be available on commercial cable networks and equally inevitably
> US produced.
I agree that we need to get some more high quality stuff going. However,
10% rules is not the way to do it in this environment. You must separate
the "content" from the "transport". The transport should be available
widely enough that anyone can access anything and anyone can create
content on whatever budget they have to hand.
Traditional media is all about restrictive transport. There are only so
many slots on the spectrum and only so many trees that can be cut down.
When transport is restricted, content choices are restricted and so
regulations are needed to ensure that the restricted transport is used
wisely and according to cultural values.
Broadband media is not based on restrictive transport. If designed well,
there will be ample to go around and it will not be necessary to determine
how it should be used wisely. For content providers it will be a case of
"if you build it, they will come". This content industry must be
supported with money, not with transport rules.
Tom is criticising the 10% rule on transport grounds. It no longer makes
sense on those grounds. It also doesn't make sense on content grounds.
Australia is not 10% of the world's population so it is ludicrous to
believe that we will produce 10% of the content available via broadband in
Australia. If the expectation is that 10% of the broadband content
available in Australia will be produced by Australians then we must
restrict access to the transport to acheive this. Big mistake.
> Are you proposing that the government drop its partnership for development
> program which has injected millions into the local IT industry?
I certainly wouldn't. The government would be foolish to do so. But
let's be brutally honest. Australia is all socket and bolt jobs when it
comes to hardware. Software and content is where our strengths lie. If
we produce it, they will come. If we do not produce it, we only have
ourselves to blame.
> Personally, I would welcome a reduction in the such IT industry subsidies
> which in many cases are little short of shams in favour of some real
> support for local Interactive Multimedia content industry.
A cheap shot. Supporting the local interactive multimedia content
industry is a very good idea. Restricting broadband is not the way to
acheive this. The multimedia industry should be supported directly. It
shouldn't be supported through protectionism.
I'm continually amused by "we must have Australian content to showcase
Australian culture" claims. Take a look at the USENET stats sometime. We
are nearly always in the top 10 of contributors to newsgroup discussions.
If this isn't Australian content, then I don't know what is. "Oh, but no
one is making money off it". What rot. By asserting our place in
world-wide discussions, we automatically showcase Australian culture.
Culture isn't asserted through money, but by the people who live it. The
next time you see an Australian make a sarcastic comment that goes right
over the head of a Yank, remember this. The next time you see an
Australian post a good recipe that uses Vegemite, remember this. The next
time you see an Australian call Gareth Powell a fool, remember this ( :-) ).
This is our culture asserting itself. The more ordinary Australians we
get on the net producing ordinary content, the more it will assert itself.
The BSEG's central failing on content issues (IMHO) is that they haven't
recognised the cultural worth of the general gasbagging that happens on
the Net. They see culture in terms of what one can buy and what one can
see on TV. Not in terms of what the people in the culture do and say in
their daily lives.
The multimedia industry should be supported. But not by 10% rules and the
like. New ways of support must be found.
Rhys Weatherley, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
E-mail: email@example.com "net.maturity is knowing when NOT to followup"