This week I spoke at both the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and the national Broadband for the Bush Forum. The Forum is an annual gathering of people working to improve access to digital communications in remote and regional Australia. You can watch the USQ talk above.
Both events aimed to get people questioning their assumptions and exploring what they exclude or overlook in their visions of the future.
“Digital access” is more than just a question of infrastructure and bandwidth – although advocacy for those things can be important. There are different ways of being digital and a one-size-fits-all approach concerns me. A “purely technical” discussion can easily overlook its own cultural and social assumptions.
There are many ways of incorporating digital technology into your life, so I’m troubled by attempts to homogenise and quantify a concept of “digital literacy”.
In a postcolonial nation like Australia, our assumptions about literacy and cultural fluency must be questioned, because different communities’ understandings of those concepts may vary widely – and be equally valid. Beth Povinelli of Columbia University articulates that in this week’s interview; she reminds us why copy-and-pasting models from one place to another can be unhelpful and even harmful.
The big question for institutions is: who gets to decide our future?
After all, anyone can respond to the question: what do you think the future will look like?
And anyone can have dreams or desires, plans or schemes, about what comes next – and no-one knows for sure.
My USQ talk, above, explored community engagement, healthcare, storytelling, digital media, and what really listening to people and technology in Australia might entail. Our Presenterless Workshop session at Broadband for the Bush explored similar themes.
You can also see a short USQ interview about what a Creative in Residence does, below: