Inventing a New Media for China Beyond the Olympics

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, The Australian National University and Director of Professional Development for the Australian Computer Society.

For the China Media Centre Conference, Brisbane, 11:25am, 5 July 2007.

This is one of two talks for the 2007 China Media Centre Conference in Brisbane, 5 to 6 July 2007. This one is Thursday on Re-Imagining Global Media, with Terry Flew, John Hartley and Michael Keane from Queensland University of Technology, Anne-Marie Brady (University of Canterbury, NZ), Jack Qiu (Chinese University Hong Kong).

The other is Friday, 6 July: Globalisation, Ideology and Theory, with Lian Zhu (University of Bournemouth, UK), Terry Flew (Queensland University of Technology), Xin Xin (University of Westminster). I am talking on Web Site for the 2008 Beijing Olympics


... second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies — which facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. ...

From Web 2.0, Wikipedia, 2 July 2007

Governance makes decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes. Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes and systems. ...

From Governance, Wikipedia, 22 June 2007.

In the past few years the Internet has gone from being a theoretical idea invented by a few western scientists funded by the US Department of Defence, to an essential part of world commerce and culture. Much of the technological infrastructure of the Internet remains the same even with developments such as Web 2.0 However our methods of work and analysis have yet to catch up. The Web created a new wave of grass roots publishing following on from email. The operation of the web for the Beijing Olympics will be the test case both for China, and all organisation structures. Within the Internet has always been the Trojan horse of grass roots participation; with Web 2.0 this will emerge to will challenge traditional power structures world wide.

Cross-disciplinary analysis is needed to understand the interplay of technology, politics and commerce. Media and cultural researchers need to throw off their arms length analysis and embrace the new media in order to understand it.

Beijing Olympics Web Planning

The Beijing Olympic Committee (BOCOG) held a 3-day conference with 20 speakers on the implementation of the Beijing Olympic 2008 Official Website. Speakers discussed design, new media applications, web management, marketing and promotion. Staff from previous Olympics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attended, along with local and international experts.

Control of content, and the role of mobile phones were discussed. The People's Daily newspaper, an official Government newspaper will provide the editorial oversight for the content on the BOCOG site. People's Daily have experience of running discussion forums and web video broadcasting as well as providing online newspapers ton hundreds of millions of readers in several languages (including English). The People's Daily newspaper previously had a hand held (mobile phone) version. This seems to have been discontinued, but the standard web page is reasonably compatible with handheld devices, as is demonstrated by accessing it via the Google Mobile XHTML service.

As is usual for an Olympic games web site, Beijing has been through several iterations. These have included the bid site, preliminary site, and revised site.

Beijing 2008 Web Sites

The latest design for the 2008 Olympics web site was released 12 June 2007. The site is, in accordance with IOC requirements, in English, French and the local Chinese. The Torch Relay has its own subsidiary site. Also there are separate sites for Sailing, Equestrian, Preliminary site, and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee (BOBICO)

For previous games the Paralympics, held in conjunction with the Olympics, had their own separate web site. But the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games have been incorporated into the main Olympic web site.BOCOG have released the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games pictograms.

Need for Consultation in Environmental Eco-cities and Urban Villages

Societies need decision making processes, which require some form of consultation with the community to be effective and efficient. The political description of this process differs between China and a western style democracy, such as Australia. But at the detailed level of delivering services to the community, the processes start to look much the same.

Decisions on the delivery of local services to a local community will need to be made with a view to local needs. The Internet can be used as a tool to consult the community.

e-Government for Remote Communities

On 22 June 2007 the Prime Minister of Australia announced emergency measures to deal with problems in remote aboriginal communities. In the longer term improvements have been recommended for the Aboriginal education systems, family support and community justice.

Australian Governments have made significant progress in providing online services to the community via the web and to provide the Internet in regional areas. It therefore should be possible to design a prototype online governance system for remote communities. Such a system could integrate online services from local , state and federal governments and deliver it in a format suitable for use in aboriginal communities. The system would allow the remote communities to administer their own local government services online and coordinate the delivery of state and federal services. The system could also integrate online training in governance and electronic archiving to meet government audit requirements.

In addition the system could provide for the community to make their views known online to their peers and to the broader community. In this way what is normally though of as government, media and discussion, could be combined. Such a system should be able to operate as well in a remote aboriginal Australian community, an urban apartment block in Shanghai, or a village in India.

Electronic service delivery models

The CSIRO ICT Centre and the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) have announced a collaboration which will explore advanced delivery models for citizen-centric online services and redevelopment of the Commonwealth’s primary web portal. Special Minister of State Gary Nairn said the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) would collaborate with CSIRO ICT Centre to explore new electronic service delivery models.

From: CSIRO helps create next generation e-Government services, CeBIT Australia, 02 July 2007

Online Governance

  1. Online Postgraduate education a model for governance
  2. Australian developed open source software
  3. Pilot for ICT Environmental Sustainability Group

The Australian Computer Society now delivers postgraduate education to ICT professionals around the world online using Australian developed open source software. This is now being considered being adopted globally by ACS's sister societies in other countries. The same model can be applied for more general education, including for community leaders needing to run their own local government.

The ACS's approach differs to the typical "drill and practice" form of online education. Instead of presenting terms to memorize then test retention with a multiple choice quiz, the ACS teaches advanced management concepts using online research, discussion and analysis.

In subjects such as Business, Legal and Ethical Issues; New Technology Alignment; Business, Strategy and IT; Project Management; IT Service Management; and Adaptive Business Intelligence, the student is provided with real world examples and materials to research. The student then discusses the issues online in specially designed forums. The students are not simply left to ramble about whatever they want online. Tutors are available to guide the discussion and the web based system has built in facilities to direct the discussion, ensuring no one monopolizes the forum and each make a contribution.

The same online techniques used for a training course can be applied to governing a community. The ACS is piloting an ICT Environmental Sustainability Group using the same tools. The idea here is that there will be several forums available depending on the status of the user. Members of the general public ("guests") will be able to read much of the material of the group, but not make any contributions. "Members" will be able to enter into discussions in some forums. "Committee members" can post announcements, solicit input and create pools to collect opinion. There are non-public forums for committee members to discuss issues. These tools largely mimic the traditional ways to communicate and interact in the off-line world. This also reflects a relatively conservative approach to online governance. The system also have provision for Wikis, which allow anyone in the world to change any of the material at any time. However, that approach is not necessarily suited to all groups (even the Wikipedia as recently restricted some updates).

More Information

Slides for these notes are also available.

Copyright Tom Worthington © 1 July 2007 Tom Worthington

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