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“Smart Internet,” ethnography and John Howard

27 April, 2007

Bob Jacobson posted the following comment on Anthrodesign regarding the use of ethnography in projecting future uses of the Internet in an Australian government project. (I am not sure if it is netiquettous to repost in this way, so maybe someone can advise me on that.) In any case, I thought it was interesting how he blamed the scaling down of the project on the current government. So, in addition to everything else, we should now oppose Howard for dissing anthropologists?

Here are two links that describe the current activity, including the webpage for the Smart Internet project that is ongoing; and how it’s been received by leading figures from the earlier era. Thanks to Christopher Ferguson and Reim Zouzou for nudging me to find these primary sources:http://www.smartint ernet.com. au/ Homepage of Smart Internet Project

http://www.aimia. com.au/i- cms?page= 1497 Announcement of Smart Internet Report (2005)

I hope soon to be in touch with Tony Newstead, the genius who pioneered the “preview” approach (beginning in 1976, for the Australian Telecommunications Commission) to acquiring public participation regarding desired futures featuring new, only vaguely foreseen technologies and services. Equally as important to the effort as the excellent proactive research Newstead’s Planning Branch conducted was its extensive program for public education and involvement — co-creation is today’s trendy term — in the development of desired public technology policy. I wish I still had my collection of reports and documents, which additionally featured incomparable information design and presentation. Now, the only collection of these documents of which I’m aware resides in Australia’s National Library.

Sadly, market forces unleashed by Australia’s subsequent Conservative governments have swamped progressive technology initiatives. The Smart Internet Project is an attempt, in the face of prevailing conservative (some would say reactionary) leadership, kept in power by appeal to xenophobia and racism. This negativity holds open the back door for private corporations to dominate the Australian national policy space. This situation will be familiar to American researchers and policymakers.

Bob Jacobson

One Comment leave one →
  1. 9 June, 2009 2:14 am

    Now you can blame Howard for anything you like. The man ruined Australia and Australians responded.

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