Framing the NBN: Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions

The report I co-authored for the Institute for Broadband Enabled Society (IBES) at the University of Melbourne is now available. “The Australian Government is building a National Broadband Network (NBN) to connect all Australians to high-speed broadband. The network has been promoted by Government and industry commentators as being increasingly important for participation in the digital economy. Yet the reported rates of uptake have been relatively low in some areas of the rollout. Research suggests that in many cases low NBN uptake is not simply a matter of people waiting for their existing Internet contract to expire or for their landlords to sign connection agreement, but relates to uncertainty of the NBN itself. This uncertainty arises from the confusing installation logistics, a fluid retail and technology environment for Internet services and a failure to communicate a clear ‘value proposition’ to the market.

726This research project builds upon previous studies into household media and communications use. These include: Broadband in the home: a longitudinal study that was previously supported by IBES and the High- speed broadband and household media ecologies project, funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). These studies have focused on the expectations, uses and impacts of high-speed broadband from a select group of early adopters.

In order to examine the uptake of high-speed broadband, the researchers are investigating and analysing the differences in consumer perceptions of high-speed broadband and its benefit. An important element is how people understand high-speed broadband in relation to daily activities and the challenges and opportunities that broadband-enabled technologies can deliver end-users. A critical element of consumer adoption rates is how the benefits of the National Broadband Network are framed, and how this framing mediates patterns of household Internet use and decision-making.

To develop a detailed understanding of the relationship between NBN uptakes – researchers are undertaking a range of analytical techniques, such as online surveys, frame analysis and interviews with people. The data obtained will provide a valuable tool for exploring the cultural, marketing and media representations driving attitude formation across consumer segments in relation to the NBN adoption” (link to the report here)

Digital registers and estate planning

The internet and other digital technologies are an important part of everyday life. We are, increasingly, using them to upload and download files, communicate with family and friends, store and share documents, listen to music, read books, watch videos and so forth.

These files accumulate throughout life and become an important record of that life (link to article in LexisNexis Retirement and Estate Planning) (it’s on page 63).

What Australian’s think of the NBN

It goes without saying that the National Broadband Network (NBN) – regardless of who steers the rest of the build – is a major infrastructure project for Australia. And we all know its cost, technical configuration, corporate configuration, end-user value-proposition, economic benefit, social benefit and roll-out pace have all been subject to claim and counterclaim.

But what do the people who will actually be using it think?

Over the past year our team from the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology have followed the progress of the debate (link to article in the Conversation)

Recovering an ‘ephemeral’ life online

My first web page from 1995 (snapshot 1998)

During the past two decades, the Internet and its applications have become one of the richest sources of bibliographical information available to scholars. Through email lists, web-pages, blogs, video and sound-recordings, and publications in various guises, the traces of one’s  life on line can be rich and varied.  At perhaps no other time in history has there been so much recorded information about individuals, both public and private; often kept in perpetuity in the darkest anterooms of the web.

But finding information in the ‘dark-web’ isn’t always an easy task and requires a series of techniques and investigative scenarios to assist more contemporary bibliographical studies.  Perhaps surprising, a large amount of deleted web-page, blog post, and video can be recovered and studied through the use of various online archives, searching, and forensic techniques. As someone who has been active online for 17 years, the traces of one’s online life can reveal the centrality of the medium to significant life narratives; that are often both challenging and embarrassing. These sources can be used to embellish bibliographical narratives when coupled with other analogue and oral sources and have become a vital component of bibliographic investigations.

eResearch in an international information environment: developments, challenges and responses


The application of diverse forms of eResearch infrastructures to support research has a long history. During the 1970s the genesis of eResearch in the shape of Internet was driven by the needs of the research community. In this latest stage of eResearch infrastructure development, also largely driven by the needs of the research, we are witnessing large scale investments in grids, clouds, federated repositories, and high-end eScience and eResearch projects to support research across institutional, regional, and disciplinary boundaries. But as eResearch expands, there is an increasing need to address the tricky questions of governance. eResearch does not exists in a free-flowing world of ideas, rather like all infrastructures, it exists in a complex, contested, and often contradictory world of varied manifestations of governance. As we will argue, the governance of any system has rarely been brought about in a planned and orderly manner; rather it is usually brought about by a crisis in a system and a contested set of attributes that have forced the extension of governance. As existing capacities meet limits, new approaches to governance are invented and deployed in the attempt to overcome the barriers. eResearch exists in a complex array of governing bodies and without a realistic grounding of its technical vision within the limits of these structures; new infrastructural developments to support eScience or eResearch or even the Digital Humanities will be hindered by institutional divergence.

Continue reading “eResearch in an international information environment: developments, challenges and responses”

Obama internet ‘kill switch’ proposed

US President Barack Obama would be granted powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet under a new bill that describes the global internet as a US “national asset”.

Local lobby groups and academics have rounded on the plan, saying that, rather than combat terrorists, it would actually do them “the biggest favour ever” by terrorising the rest of the world, which is now heavily reliant on cyberspace.

The proposed legislation, introduced into the US Senate by independent senator Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee, seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.

Titled “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act”, the bill stipulates any internet firms and providers must “immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by a new section of the US Department of Homeland Security, dubbed the “National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications” (from The Age link).