Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ipswich: Australia's First Online Community?

There has been a recent fad for Australia cities and states to devise digital strategies. Policy makers could do well to read Mal Bryce's book "Australia's First Online Community Ipswich Queensland" (Xlibris Corporation, 2010). This recounts the efforts by an inland Australia city to reinvent itself as a high tech center. The book provides a useful history lesson in the early days of the Internet and the difficulties of attracting high technology ventures to a region.

Of particular interest to me were the effort the Ipswich City Council wet to to attract a campus of the University of Queensland, the time this took and the political considerations in the eventual location (which is a former mental asylum). While Australia's capital cities can take for granted they will have tertiary education facilities, other regions have to work hard to obtain such facilities (see my study for the Great Southern Region of WA and proposal for Canberra).

Mal Bryce spoke about the Ipswich proj3t at the "Public Access to Networked Information" conference at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra, in 1994. This conference included a number of people who were influential in establishing the Internet in Australia, but are not known outside their own professional circles, such as Geoff Huston and Michele Huston. I recall this conference well, as after Roger Clarke gave his presentation I could hear him typing revisions to his paper at the back of the room on a very noisy laptop. Mal Bryce's "High Capacity Broadband: an Economic, Environmental and Social Imperative" (2009) is referenced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications NBN report "Broadening the debate".

ps: Thanks to the National Library of Australia for a copy of Mal's book, in their excellent reading room.

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