Friday, 10 April 2009
Joel's broadband musings:
Last week the Australian Federal Government made a decision to roll out a state-of-the art fibre-to-the-premises broadband network. This super-fast network will provide Australian consumers and businesses with not just an increase in speed (which is fantastic for impatient people such as myself), but will open new doors of opportunity for Australian businesses to interact with consumers. It is a clear sign that technological innovation is by no means slowing, and presents a wakeup call for Australian businesses who have not yet already embraced the internet as a medium to connect with existing and prospective customers.
"It will transform the way people live their lives," Conroy tells the Herald. "It will transform the way people communicate. It will transform the way business interacts with customers."
It is the road, the railway, the electricity, the phone line of the new age, and information can travel through it at the speed of light.
Super-fast trip to a world full of surprises
Now the Government has decided it won the tender for a next-generation broadband network, Australians are wondering what to expect over the next eight years.
Many probably think it will bring them more of the same, albeit more quickly. They couldn't be more wrong. Very high-speed broadband of the kind the Government promises will completely change our expectations for the internet. It's not simply that pages will load faster (and they may not, as that's more to do with the computers serving those pages than the computer displaying them), it's the new things that become possible.
A decade ago broadband was a solution looking for a problem. It offered little more than a faster web experience. Then Napster came along, and suddenly everyone wanted to share music, then movies and TV shows, and now everything. This is the age of sharing, both legal and illicit, and broadband internet is principally responsible for that.
Yet none of us knew back in 2000-01, as the dotcom bubble imploded, that another and brighter future lay just around the corner, driven by broadband. The internet was presented to us as a one-to-many publication medium - and we do use it to get our news. But the second wave of the internet - Web2.0 to its devotees - is all about sharing, collaborating, and pooling resources.
Consider that YouTube, the most popular broadband website, didn't exist four years ago. It has changed everything about how we create, publish and share video. No one predicted YouTube, or Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent, all applications which made broadband a must-have. It isn't until broadband is available to use, that people can explore its potential.
The next-generation broadband network (NBN) opens up possibilities we can't even dream of today, because we don't yet live in the world of super high-speed broadband.
Even so, we have some idea what's coming. Already, a small number of people are "lifestreaming" - recording and sharing their lives in their most intimate details, so that anyone, anywhere, can peer in. Within the next few years lifestreaming will become the norm for the younger generation - they'll be sharing their lives with their friends as freely as they share text messages today.
That's what happens with a truly high-speed broadband network. It'll drive parents nuts, generate endless discussion of issues from privacy to pederasty, but it's going to happen. Next-generation smartphones will tie into the network to become our points of presence within a "cloud" of information about ourselves, created by ourselves, and shared with those we love and trust.
It's all very different from the world we see today, and very different from anything the Government expects. It's providing a fast pipe for next-generation TV services, - plus a little left over for education, seniors and the arts.
But that's not the way this is going to work. We're on the cusp of a disruptive revolution, a power shift brought on by sharing, and bumping up the speed 100 times will make it happen 10,000 times faster.
The good news is that something wonderful will happen amidst all this high-speed connectivity, coming out of our blind spot to surprise us all.
Mark Pesce is honorary associate in the Digital Cultures Program at the University of Sydney.
Read the full SMH Article here: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/superfast-trip-to-a-world-full-of-surprises-20090407-9zhy.html?page=-1