Link Library #2 (for Meetings in New Zealand, Aug.-Sept. 2007)

Materials Related to Digital Strategy, Digital Capability Development, and the Humanities in New Zealand

Selected Quotations:

1. First sentences of the Foreword to “The Digital Strategy” by the Minister of Information Technology and of Communications (David Cunliffe): “There’s a buzz about New Zealand right now. We have vibrant communities. We have innovative people and companies at the creative cutting-edge.”

2. From “The Digital Strategy”: “It is important that we keep all the dimensions of the Digital Strategy in line. Content, Connection, and Confidence are the three enablers. Connection is necessary but not sufficient — it simply provides the means. Confidence gives us the skills and a secure online environment, whilst accessing or creating Content provides a compelling reason to make it happen.”

3. In the “The Digital Strategy,” the section on “Why We Need a Digital Strategy” begins: “The information we access through digital technologies can promote innovation, increase productivity, and enrich the quality of our lives. Content creation is not only a global business — now it can be anyone’s business. Using digital technologies to create and access our distinctive cultural content enhances our identity as New Zealanders. ICT helps us unlock our stores of national content, making them accessible to all, and it is a powerful tool for directing and expressing our creativity.”

4. From Draft New Zealand Digital Content Strategy: “The appropriate mechanisms are also needed to unlock New Zealand’s stock of current and future content, in part to provide a supply of high quality content to stimulate demand and uptake of digital technology. In stimulating demand for content however, we must also protect, preserve and promote our heritage and cultural identities, in an environment open to being swamped by the widening access to international content. Maori language, knowledge and culture, a vital part of New Zealand’s identity, is particularly vulnerable to being drowned out or appropriated by international interests unless adequately protected.”

5. From an appendix of the Council of Humanities “Research Policy Paper” (the appendix is a table titled “Sketch of the Cultural Knowledge Research System”): “Research Mode: Primarily interpretive, but including creative and social scientific methodologies. Research Outcomes: Including: Peer-reviewed academic research, contract research, catalogues . . . , conferences and seminars,[etc.]”

 

Observations

  • The primary goal of the national digital strategy is to bring New Zealand front and center as a postindustrial “knowledge society” in which the premium value is “innovative” or “creative” knowledge.
  • But one of the distinctive premium values of New Zealand is heritage, including Maori language and culture.
  • A national digital strategy should allow New Zealand fully to access—and fully be accessed by—global informational, economic, social, and cultural networks.
  • But New Zealand must protect itself from those global networks.
  • The driver of the whole digital strategy is national “content,” which is to be “preserved.”
  • Except when it is being “unlocked.”
  • Neither of those verbs having any apparent relation to the master verbs of the strategy: “create” and “innovate.”
  • Capability-development initiatives in support of the national digital strategy are BIG (KAREN, BESTGRID, Cultural Portals, etc.).
  • But much of the distinctive culture and heritage of the nation starts small: at the level of the local “community,” which wouldn’t know what to do with a GRID if it met one.