Let's do lunch Series, No 2

Interview with: Kate Lundy, 26 September 1995

Kim Beazley opens Kate Lundy's home page Update 2 March 1996: Kate Lundy elected to the Senate.

Update 30 October 1996: Kim Beazley opens Kate Lundy's electoral Office, in Civic and her new home page.

Tom: Well I don't suppose you have a copy of the questions I was going to ask you? I forgot to print a copy and can't read the screen on my lap-top, in this brilliant Canberra spring sunshine.

Kate: No.

Tom: No... let me see we are at Gorman Home Markets... Gorman House

Kate:Gorman House, the craft markets are only on the weekend.

Tom: Okay, why are we here at Cafe Luna at Gorman House? Cafe Luna at Gorman House

Kate: Well it was the first place that crossed my mind and it must have been a visionary thing; since I nominated it...

Staff: Your drinks.

Tom: Thank you, could I take your photo and put it on the world wide web and make you famous?

Staff: Okay. Staff and Kate Lundy at Cafe Luna

Tom: Thanks. Kate you are drinking peppermint tea?

Kate: Yes, back to the interview?

Tom: Lets get some food first! What's on the specials board? I think I will have the soup.

Kate: I have the baby spinach salad... Back to why Gorman House: The Canberra Youth Theatre have a project down here on 11 October. The TLC wants to have its Cyberspace Cafe launch down here on the 11 October.

Staff: Would you like me to take a photo?

Tom: Yes something technical looking, with my palm-top PC, and with wireless modem on t he table. Kate Lundy and Tom Worthington at Cafe Luna

Kate: I am impressed.

Tom: Yes, so was the Senate. So you are going to put something on about the contemporary arts here?

Kate: We are going to have a launch here. What I want to do is to have our concept drawings about our Cafe on display and material about the multimedia salon.

Tom: You are president of the ACT TLC and what's the Labour party thing?

Kate: I have been preselected by the ACT Branch of the Labour Party in the number one position on the senate []ticket for the next federal election.

Tom: Okay, that's enough politics, they can read the TLC and your home page. So how come this enthusiasm for computers?

Kate: I started working for the union at a time they were just starting to buy some technology. They just got a few PCs. The option of doing some computer graphics work came up and I had done graphic design at school. I put my hand up and was packed off to Sydney for two days to learn Ventura. Then I got a good PC for producing publications for the Union. Mainly these days using Corel and Ventura. It was a great day when the two companies merged producing Corel-Ventura.

Tom: Now the non-computer people would say at this point:

"Get a life!"

Kate: True.

Tom: Is that why the TLC is now on the World Wide Web?

Kate: No, there is more to it than that.

Staff: Your lunch.

Tom: The lamb barley and leek soup and that looks like a relative of a Caesar salad you are having?

Kate: Yes, this is the baby spinach, bacon and eggs and mayo...

So given the union needed to become more involved in technology, when I got on-line at home I saw what it offered. I realised, like many others around the world, the potential of the web for unions and community groups. I started to think about how we could make the most of this new medium. Wisteria growing at Gorman House

The Internet Cafe emerged out of throwing all sorts of ideas around for some time as a great way to bring together and achieve a number of objectives in one project.

Tom: Did you have much trouble convincing the TLC hierarchy that this was a good idea? I have visions of large blokes in blue singlets sitting around the TLC meeting table...

Kate: Its [with a mouthful of salad] not quite like that. I think I had some credibility in this area, because of my work with computers for a long time and they have seen what I can produce. The executive members have heard a bit about then net. Some unions have done quite a bit of work in establishing a web site.

Also there was recognition of the fact that unions need to broaden their appeal generally and this was an area which young people are involved in. We are facing problems of declining membership and are always looking to new areas where trade unions have not been traditionally involved.

I recognised there were lots of access and equity issues relating to the information super-highway, that needed to be addressed and this project would be a practical way to provide access to a group of people who would not otherwise have it, some building workers for example, who don't have a PC at home and aren't likely to bump into one [crash from kitchen].

Tom: This came up at the Senate on Friday. Senator Wheelwright (ALP NSW), who wasn't so much interested in the computer pornography issue the enquires was about, but public access and equity issues with the Internet, which I thought was interesting.

[eating and drinking noises]

So you got all that approved by the TLC hierarchy...

Kate: There is a key to all of this going ahead and that is of course: money. The TLC has authorised establishing the feasibility of it. We are putting together options on financial packages. It is endorsed in principle, but we haven't got the dollars yet. An aspect of the project which we have started already, which isn't contingent on dollars is putting together a service to community groups for providing content on the 'net. I posted a notice on the newsgroup calling for people interested in participating, for HTML specialists, basically...

Tom: Yes, I saw it on the Canberra newsgroup canb.general.

Kate: We are sending out a letter to all trade unions and community groups in the next week or so, asking them to give us something in this format, with a graphic and we will put it up for them.

Tom: Well this is good, you can do it instead of me.

Kate: [with a mouthful of food] Its just an extension of that service. You can only do so much yourself and there are a lot of people out there willing to help. They are prepared to become involved, provided they know their energy is going towards a good cause. If it enhances usage and access to the net then I believe that people are prepared to put in a bit of time and effort.

Tom: I think the problem is, and this came up at the ACS Council on Friday, the loose sort of way these things happen is something that organisations have trouble coming to grips with. It makes it hard, government is the extreme case, but other bureaucracies also have trouble as well with this way of doing things.

Kate: Yes, but the way to sell it to an organisation (like the TLC), is to say there isn't some mystical formal process that one has to go through to do all of this, its a matter of just doing it. Its been the nature of this project so far: just get out there and do it. Its new ground, there aren't any right ways established as yet. We could have waited with getting mark-up done for community groups until we had the money sorted out for the cafe and the cafe up and running. But we don't see one being necessary tied to the other.

Tom: Well, that's good, because that's what I suggested. ;-)

...Now, we are really here to promote IFIP'96, so we have to say something about it! Here is a glossy brochure for Teleteaching'96...

Kate: I have already got one.

Tom: Err... So are you going to organise an activity for the conference? Its ideal, you are local to the conference city, you have this community based net going, would you like to do us an on-line project about something?

Kate: Love to... what sort of thing?

Tom: Pick a topic and we will invent the project here and now. At the last "Lets Do Lunch" we developed the idea of the on-line conference. How about a cultural thing: an on-line arts festival?

Kate: Let's build on what we have got. An on-line arts festival?

Tom: Could you use it to teach the sort of things which normally happen at Gorman House for example? They have belly dancing classes, drama classes and art classes. Can we do some of them on-line?

Kate: Yeah... we need to get some nice big fast net access, with broad-band so we can have live video.

Tom: Now don't let this go to your head. Its got to be something community based. If we do it in high definition video, no one will be able to watch it at the other end. We are just going to make all those people around the world more envious of what is going on here in Canberra.

Kate: Yes, that's a problem.

Tom: Back to the tourist angle, we are just around the corner from the National Convention Centre, where Teleteaching'96 and IFIP'96 are being held. Its just down the road, past the Vietnamese noodle restaurant (they do raw kangaroo noodle soup), past the Japanese restaurant, several coffee shops and you are at the NCC (that's the way I work).

...You have to invent an event for it then...

Kate: Yes. I will be interested to see how the Multimedia Salon deals with it. Perhaps an expansion of that concept.

Tom: Well we had the on-line drinks, that was pretty good.

Kate: How did that go, did you get drunk?

Tom: No! I was the only one who didn't have a good time, because I had to get it all to work. I was running around taking digital photographs and sound bytes to up load and everyone else was having a drink. Next time someone else can do it! We had the entire hotel puzzled about what was going on.

Kate: Which band was it?

Tom: Interactions. We had the policy on government distribution of funding for community network access being formulated over drinks. People from government, industry and community groups were working out if it should be regional or central or like community radio. They didn't like me typing what they were saying into the IRC.

Kate: Well they are bureaucrats aren't they?

Tom: Not all of them, some are the ones who write papers for the NISC.

Kate: Um... what's for desert? I will at least need a cappuccino.

[Kate goes to get one]

What else can I tell you about the cafe?

Tom: What would be much easier would be for you to put all of the messy details on your home page and then I put a link here. Everyone can read about it and you can update it.

Kate: Okay.

Tom: What is the connection between trams, cheesecake, old books and the Internet?

Kate: Dickson, where the cafe may go, is a really happening place. You can go to the tradies (Canberra Tradesman's Club) and sit in a tram (used for seating). There is a new old book store, next to the cheesecake shop with free samples: chocolate cake, carrot cake, cheesecake. Dickson is becoming a very happening place to be. Which is why we want to put our cafe there. ;-)

Tom: And its just ten minutes walk from where I live.

Kate: Will you need more space as national president?

Tom: Why do I get the feeling you are trying to sell us office space next to your cafe? ;-)

"Yes ladies and gentleman, if you would like to lease some hi-tech office space in Dickson, apply to the ACT TLC!"

Kate: It would be above the cafe.

Tom: My own research and development is aimed at spending all day in a cafe. I helped run a military exercise from the cafe at Mallacoota.

Kate: What happened on Friday?

Tom: I was before the Senate committee looking at regulation of the Internet. I suppose you will be able to heavy people, when you are in the Senate. Does this mean we will have a Senator who knows something about the Internet?

Kate: Yes.

Tom: Good. Now what do you think of the Australian Labour Party home page, with Barry Jones saying " click a box"?

Kate: I thought it was a reasonable first attempt.

Tom: You aren't going to get struck off the Senate ticket for saying that?

Kate: No, no, no. You have to give them credit they have great graphics. But for the Cabinet, the put it all on one page, so you have to wait for this whole endless page to load before you can get out of it. I would change that, put them in separate pages. I quite liked Barry Jones' click-a-box.

Tom: Will there be a link from there to the ACT TLC home page?

Kate: We haven't raised that with the ALP, as an organisation. They could have a section linked to affiliated trade unions.

Tom: Maybe we need world wide web reviews like film reviews.

Kate: That's a good idea.

Tom: Following the SBS film show, format:

"Kate how would you rate the ALP home page, how many stars out of five?"
. ;-)

Kate: I was pretty impressed, especially after my own attempts at mark-up, so I would have to give it a four.

Tom: For a first attempt I thought it was good three and a half out of five from me. Now we play the signature tune for the web page review show and roll the credits. ;-)

Kate: Who else's page can we pick on?

Tom: I wish the Karrajong Hotel would reduce the size of the pictures in their page, they take a long time to transmit across the Pacific Ocean.

Kate: What can our cafe do for you?

Tom: We want people to come to Canberra for IFIP'96, so we want to show its a hi-tech, fun place.

Kate: Can we host something up there during the conference?

Tom: Yes, there live and on the Internet. What about something on teaching Union people who to use the technology? A celebration of unionism on-line.

Kate: I've got a list of union sites around the world.

Tom: You should put them on your home page and link up during the conference.

Kate: Okay. Another thing which off the record...

Tom: Excuse me record...

... we are back on the record and you will wonder what that was all about. ;-)

Another thing, perhaps as a person plugged into the political process, you could get the ACT Government up to speed on all this information super-highway stuff?

Kate: Wrong party: I am ALP, they are Liberal.

Tom: Yes, but you know how to explain things to people and at the ACT level its more like a local government than really political. How can we get the ACT Government doing more Internet stuff?

Kate: Their angle appears to be in terms of databases, not Internet based. My position is that they need to move away from that and look at Internet. I don't know of the Government is frightened of the Internet because of the control factor: they can't control it. Can they show their constituents the value of their investment? I don't think they fully have a grip on what the Internet has to offer.

Tom: Yes, I get queries from people around the world asking where the Florarde tourism page is, because I do the Canberra Tourism page. But I have to tell them it isn't. I read in the paper that it was going to be on the Internet today, but the Floriade has already started.

Kate: The ACT Government has a fear of replication of services. If they think its happening in the private sector, then they don't want to do it.

Tom: Well should we go and knock on the door of the Chief Minister?

Kate: Let's do it and take David Marshall from Canberra Tourism, I think he has some background in this technology angle.

Tom: I have run out of questions.

Kate: Okay, I will ask you some questions. What do you actually do at Defence?

Tom: I am Deputy Director Information Management Plans, so I write those boring strategic type IT plans. In my spare time I do the Defence home page.

Kate: You get paid to do mark-up?

Tom: Yes, but I am trying to get out of it, because I am a very expensive resource to use for desk-top publishing. I am writing the policy for Defence Internet public access. The problem is how do you take something as anarchical as the Internet and turn it into something a bureaurarchy will love. If it works for Defence, it works for any bureaurarchy. This followed al lot of work on how to do it for the ACS and submissons.

Kate: So is that like a navigation system for all the information they want to place on there?

Tom: Yes, but also how to put the information up in an orderly fashion. You can't have people in an organisation slapping out to the public whatever they want. You have to have an approval process and the information has to look coherent. You try to do this without making it so bureaucratic that its no more efficient than putting out the information on paper.

Kate: What is the trick to it? That each Department has one point, it all goes through?

Tom: Yes, you use the Web for a hierarchical structure, so that at the Australian level there is one Australian Governments home page, below that there is a Commonwealth Government home page, then agency home pages. Within the agency you can delegate by organisation structure. You need to ensure that the people doing it know how to use the Internet technology to collaborate to do it, as well as the usual bureaucratic meetings. Make sure you have enough social contact between the people to make it work.

Kate: So is it your idea that we take that model along to the ACT Government?

Tom: Yes, they have an "ACT Government Internet Reference Group", modelled on the Commonwealth Internet Reference Group. But I am not sure which ACT agency is co-ordinating it, if any. The Commonwealth one is working brilliantly.

Kate: That is because they have the right people in there.

Tom: Thank you ;-)

Copyright (c) 1995 Australian Computer Society

Interview with: Kate Lundy, 26 September 1995

Update 2 March 1996: Kate Lundy elected to the Senate.

Postscript 16 June 1996: Gorman House Craft Markets

This has nothing to do with Kate, IFIP'96 or elections, but I thought I would show you something from the craft markets yesterday:

This is Chris from Australis Restorus Bush Furniture.

Chris in bush chair Box Bush chair without Chris
He makes furniture out of bits of trees, old packing cases and oil drums. These are cheap (under $AU100) compared to store bought furniture. I can't comment on how sturdy they are. I jokingly asked him if he exports and he said yes, so far to Japan and Norway. You can call him on +61 19 444 923 (ask him to get e-mail).

Prepared by: Tom Worthington