The National Broadband Network (NBN) will give the Government the incentive it needs to invest in the digital sector, according to ACT Senator Kate Lundy who spoke at a Wikimedia event in Canberra.
“There's a social revolution that is about to occur on the back of the current cultural and digital revolution,” she told a room full of executives from the cultural sector and government.
“The National Broadband Network will resolve the greatest blockage to realising the potential of digital communications once and for all. That blockage [was responsible] for inequity and the digital divide. Whilst ever there were some in our society that were not able to participate in the digital revolution due to reasons like geographic isolation, socio-economic status and poor communications infrastructure, any public investment in online services and content had an equity question hanging over it.”
Lundy said that the introduction of the NBN will cause a tipping point.
“Combined with significant public investment in the digital education revolution and the billions of dollars being spent on the NBN, Governments can now move forward with confidence to create and inspire social, cultural and economic dividends to be derived from a ubiquitous high speed broadband network,” she said.
Increased digital access will have several significant effects on the cultural sector, according to Lundy.
“It [will] remove the limiting effects that living in a vast country miles from anywhere can have on cultural connections. It can drive interesting cultures to be associated with our cultural history just by making [that history] more accessible. It can enhance and facilitate the educational use of those cultural artefacts. It can inspire innovation and it can lead to improving the preservation of the original assets.”
When asked by a member of the audience about reports that the education sector is paying $50 million a year in order to access and copy digital material, Lundy agreed that there were challenges associated with the NBN.
“I think that the challenge now is [dealing with] the prospect of the NBN and the digital sharing of information. I talk about the NBN at the start of every presentation I do because it is no longer just a case of translating the old format to the new,” she said.
“We are at such a cusp between the old and the new. The NBN changes everything, not least because it is a publicly funded initiative so it will require a high level of scrutiny on the laws that impose additional cost just by virtue of using that network.”
Lundy said it was important for industry and community to articulate the costs around the movement of content over the broadband network, work to strengthen the business case for the network and start to highlight and single out the positives that can be gained.
“There will be lots [of positives] but detailing them is a very important story to tell,” she said.
In addition to the opportunities the NBN offers various industry and government sectors there will also be plenty of opportunity for people who are aware of content and copyright laws as they will become increasingly important, according to Lundy.
In a panel discussion after Lundy's keynote, Paul Reynolds, Adjunct Director to the Digital Library of the National Library of New Zealand, re-iterated how important it was for businesses to embrace the 'digital revolution', saying that not to do so was to participate in "nothing more than analogue rock and roll".
“If any organisation does not now have a digital strategy in place that includes them having to collaborate with their peers, then they should be shut down and closed up. That's my challenge,” he said.