[LINK] History of Internet in Australia on Paper

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue May 4 09:29:19 AEST 2010

The book "AARNet : 20 Years of the Internet in Australia : 1989-2009" by 
Glenda Korporaal was launched in November 2009:

But only in the last week have I been able to access it, as the book is 
only avialable as a hardback paper book. This is ironic as AARNet is a 
pioneer of online information access.

The book is a reasonably well researched, well written and well 
presented 128 page, handsome hardback, with numerous historically 
interesting photographs. The book could do with an index and seems to 
draw more than a little of its inspiration from Roger Clarke's "Origins 
and Nature of the Internet in Australia" 

The author does not shy away from discussing some of the controversies 
in AARnet's history. I recognised many familiar names and faces, some of
whom were memebrs of the "Internet Conspiracy" to get the Australian 
Government on the Internet in the 1990s (quite a few are still Linkers).

It is a shame, and symptomatic of the problems which have held back
AARnet, that few people will ever see this work. After making a bold
move into a new technology AARnet tends loose it nerve and fails to
follow up and make effective use of the what it has done. In this case
they have commissioned a book, but ensured almost no one will ever read
it, by not making it available using the technology they advocate.

The message AARnet is sending out to its clients in Australian
universities and to its backers (the Australian Government), is that
AARnet does not think the Internet is suitable for the distribution of
important information: AARnet prefers paper delivery and does not trust 
the Internet.

The copy of the book I read will sit on the shelves of the ANU Menzies 
Library, several floors away from the nearest student (who will be 
tapping away at a keyboard) and on the other side of the campus from the 
School of Computer Science: <http://library.anu.edu.au/record=b2384773>.

AARnet could have provided the book online, as a valuable educational
resource, in the form of a free web site and e-book. This would have 
cost less to produce than the expensive hardback book (and may have been 
profitable). Australian students could have then learned about the role 
which Australia played in creating the Internet. Instead Australians 
will be educated using materials from other countries and not know 
Australia had a role in development of the Internet.

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/user/3890

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