Future of the Internet in Australia

Future of the Internet in Australia

It is here now

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Designer of the ANU Green ICT Course

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University
For the Political Academy forum, ANU, Canberra, 29 July 2010

The Internet is increasingly a part of business, education, entertainment and government. But what can we do about the negative aspects of objectionable and criminal activities on-line? Everyone wants free access to information, but worries about how this may adversely effect another group: children and others at risk. Tom Worthington argues that perfect Internet regulation is not politically or technically feasible and that education is the answer.

Uniquely, Tom Worthington was selected to explain what the Internet was to the Australian Senate. For this and other work he was elected a fellow Australian Computer Society. Tom teaches green ICT and web ethics at the ANU and was invited to China to advise on how to put the Beijing Olympics on the web. Come along and discuss with Tom some of the social ramifications of the Internet, censorship, self censorship, Google and governance.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM

Tom Worthington preparing to depart the USS Blue Ridge by Military Helicopter during Exercise Tandem Thrust 97

Tom Worthington is an independent ICT consultant and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the ANU. He designed the Green ICT Courses for the ACS and ANU. Previously he advised on IT policy at the Department of Defence.

Tom was the founding chair of the ACS Green ICT Group. In 1999 He was elected a Fellow of the ACS for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy in Australia. He is a past president, Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the ACS, a voting member of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Good and Bad of the Internet

Joint Operations Control Center (JOCC) on aboard Blue Ridge during Exercise Tandem Thrust 97

One experience at the Department of Defence, while doing web pages for military exercises, seems relevant to the Future of the Internet in Australia. At the invitation of the web master of the U.S. 7th Fleet I visited them on the Flagship on exercises off the coast of Queensland, for some extreme mobile computing. The 18,500 ton, 1,550 crew USS Blue Ridge is a mobile floating headquarters, equipped with ordinary desktop computers used to run military exercises. Standard office software and web browsers were used. This reduces the cost and allows systems to be easily upgraded. Temporary staff, such as the he US Marines bring their laptops and stick them to the desktops using green gaffer tape.

In 1997 when the exercise was run, the une of the Internet to conduct military exercises was revolutionary. The term "Revolution in Military Affiars" was popular to describe this and other technology use. The use of internet technology is now routine in the military for war-fighting. But as the recent U.S. Intelligence report on Wikileaks demonstrates, the technology has its problems for corporate users.

Internet Regulation in Australia

Social Inclusion with ICT

Online education can help with:

But requires "Access to the Internet and information technology"

Indicators from: Compendium of Social Inclusion Indicators, Australian Social Inclusion Board, Australian Government, 2009

The Australian Social Inclusion Board of the Australian Government issued a Compendium of Social Inclusion Indicators in 2009. "Access to the Internet and information technology" is one of the measures listed under "Exclusion from services". There is a risk that using the Internet and computers for education could decrease social inclusion, by decreasing access to education. However, assuming this access can be provided, then the Internet and ICT, particularly mobile phones, can be used to combat other forms of social exclusion.

In particular, Internet and ICT access can assist with "Young people not in education or training", "Persons (adults) with low educational attainment", "Adult literacy", "Academic progress of Year 3 and Year 7 students in Australia", and "Access to services".

Online courses can be provided where and when required, either on their own, or part of a face-to-face program. This can be in a traditional educational setting at a school, TAFE, or universities. But it can also be in a less traditional setting, such as a library, other community facility, or group. This can help keep young people in education or training by making it more relevant and accessible, assisting academic progress. It can also be provided to adults with limited education.

Online education can be used to address adult literacy directly. Also accessibility features of the web can be used to provide access to services for those with limited literacy, as well as to those with a disability.

The Internet can be used to provide access to services, particularly by allowing a simpler path through complex administrative procedures of government and corporate service providers. The techniques developed for presenting information in an easy to understand way on web pages and to test the effectiveness of the information provision, can greatly aid access.

Mobile phones provide a new opportunity for providing access to education and to services. As well as providing a more available way to access the Internet, the limited interface of the mobile phone forces web designers to prioritize the information provided, removing irrelevant material and concentrating on what the client actually needs.

The Future is Here

The history of the Internet in Australia features people at the ANU, 20 years ago.

The ANU uses the Australian developed Moodle open source Learning Management System for courses such as the Green ICT Strategies I designed and teach.

ANU graduates helping invent the Internet at Google.

This new Internet technology being developed and used at ANU today will be in common use in the community in years or decades time. It is therefore very possible to see the future of the Internet in Australia in ten years time, simply by looking at its use around the ANU campus today. This will not only include technical advancements, but ways of working and governing the nation. As an example techniques of mentored collaborative on-line learning used in such courses can also be applied to problems such as forming a con census on climate change.

More Information

Slides for these notes are also available.

Copyright © 2010 (Version 1.0, 29 July 2010) Tom Worthington

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