[LINK] Fwd: MR 136/2009: Motivation, understanding and access essential for Australian adults to participate in the digital world [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Oct 6 14:53:09 AEDT 2009

Antony Barry wrote:
> Begin forwarded message ... From: "Australian Communications & Media
Authority" ... 1 October 2009
>> A significant minority of adult Australians are missing out on the 
>> benefits of new digital media, in particular the internet... report, released today.  ...

The Australian Communications and Media Authority report "Adult digital 
media literacy needs" has public policy implications 

It is very easy for a government body to assume that if they provide 
information or a service via the web, then everyone can use it. ACMA's 
solution seems to be extra education of the digitally illiterate. But 
this may not always be possible and there are other options. It is 
likely that there will continue to be people who are unable, or 
unwilling, to use digital media (including those who do not find it of use).

One reason Roger Clarke and myself suggested providing Internet access 
at public libraries was that these facilities are staffed with highly 
trained information professionals to help the public with information 
access (called "librarians"). There will be a continuing need for such 
people <http://www.acs.org.au/president/1997/acsnet/acsnet.htm>.

ACMA's suggestions for convincing people to use digital media appear at 
best naive and misguided. What ACMA seem to have in mind is a public 
information campaign to try to convince people to use the Internet. The 
Australian government is currently spending billions of dollars on 
programs to provide digital education for everyone from school children 
to senior citizens. It seems unlikely that a "Where have you been online 
today?" campaign will add much to this, or be a good use of public money.

Also ACMA cannot be too smug about its own information literacy, as they 
way they have provided their report is not exactly best practice for 
online information distribution. The report is provided as a monolithic 
63 page electronic facsimile of a printed report in PDF (452 kb) and 
Microsoft Word (704 kb). Neither of these is easy to read online and 
contain a copyright notice which seems to be designed to discourage 
their use. The PDF version of the document has security set to prevent 
copying of text from the document, this is a pointless encumbrance which 
makes discussion of the document more difficult, without increasing 
security in any way.

More on the report in my blog: 

ps: The report is dated August 2009, so ACMA must have been sitting on 
it for at least a month. It would be interesting to know why.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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