“Democratic governance rests on the capacity of and opportunity for citizens to engage in enlightened debate”
A “Public Sphere” is a space that “…through the vehicle of public opinion it puts the state in touch with the needs of society” . This kind of engagement in public policy is a great way to represent different views and harness a broad range of expertise, particularly on topical issues of the day.
Although there are certainly many formal mechanisms for participation in Australian Government processes, we thought it would be a great idea to create an online public sphere and facilitate regular topics of interest to both the general public and to the government. This way people from all around Australia can participate online. We will be experimenting with different technologies to get the recipe right for this kind of engagement, and any thoughts on this are very welcome.
Each Public Sphere will run for two weeks, and then all feedback will be summarised per topic and put into briefing papers that we will make available on this website and to the appropriate channels in government.
There will also be a Public Sphere workshop per topic (likely every 4 – 6 weeks) which will give a physical place for people to speak about their ideas in concise 10 minutes talks. We intend to stream the talks online for general public access. Feedback and questions will happen live over Twitter both from the participants in the room and from remote participants. We were very impressed with the recent use of this at the ATUG conference and wanted to give it a go in order to balance the benefits of online and offline approaches.
For our first Public Sphere topic, we thought we would choose High Bandwidth in Australia. This topic is not going to cover the recently announced National Broadband Network or implementation details for high bandwidth in Australia, but rather a discussion about what high bandwidth can do for Australian society, business and government.
How to participate in a Public Sphere:
- Post comments, links to papers, case studies and ideas to the blog post comments – comments will be summarised and presented at the event as part of the proceedings
- Blog with the tag publicsphere or Public Sphere and Twitter with #publicsphere so we can find your ideas and post them below
- Run your own events and post your outcomes here in the comments
- Join us for our short workshop event, which will be streamed online so you can participate remotely
- Volunteer to give a (maximum) 10 minute talk at the workshop by adding your name and topic to the comments at the bottom of this post
We’ll do our best to put together a programme of thought-provoking speakers for the day, and look forward to your participation, online or in person for this Public Sphere topic.
- Topic: The opportunities and issues around getting high speed bandwidth in Australia
- Schedule: Please see below
- Place: Australia National University, Seminar Room 101, in the Department of Computer Science Ground Floor. See the Google Map.
- Internet: Will of course be available for attendees, details on the day.
- Coffee and refreshments: Available for sale at the Purple Pickle right next to the venue.
- Parking or Transport: Parking at ANU during term can be difficult, so please check out the visitor parking map and the available bus routes to the ANU.
- Date: 7th May
- Time: 8.30am for a 9am start till 12pm
- Agenda: To be published by 5th May, but short 10 minute talks with simultaneous online discussion and questions
- Social Media: Twitter: #publicsphere or blog: publicsphere or ”Public Sphere”. Post questions on the day to @katelundy
- Video/audio stream for the day: http://dld.anu.edu.au/public-sphere - please note there is a short lag on the video stream. An enormous thanks to George Bray and Bob Edwards for coordinating the video streaming, and venue.
- Online Participation: via Twitter using #publicsphere as the tag. Participants both in the room and remotely will post questions to @katelundy and comments and feedback on the content as it is being presented to #publicsphere. Speakers will see the questions as they come up and be able to deal with them either throughout their talk, or at the end. By driving everything through Twitter we hope to effectively be able to both encourage and capture different perspectives from all participants, local and remote.
UPDATE: RSVP was via a webform below, but please continue to contribute talk proposals, comments and other input to the comments section at the end of this post.
Please note, our current moderation policy on comments is full moderation as this site is only a week old, but we will ensure comments are moderated as soon as possible (within an hour or two). This policy will be changed in the coming weeks as per the moderation policy.
 Habermas, Jürgen (German(1962 - English Translation 1989), p 31. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-262-58108-6.
Pre-recorded sessions marked with an *
- 0830 Coffee at the Purple Pickle next door to venue
- 0900 Introduction and comments – Senator Lundy
- 0910 The ‘unexplored country’ we will be entering with high speed broadband – Craig Thomler. Presentation slides.
- 0920 Green ICT – Tom Worthington. Presentation slides
- 0930 Building a Smarter Planet – what is happening in the digital world to build a digital economy and the imperative that we harness technology to position Australia for the challenges it is facing – Judy Anderson (IBM). Presentation slides (20MB)
- 0940 Opportunities for online collaboration over long distances with high speed broadband * – James Purser. Youtube and presentation slides.
- 1000 Public empowerment through public engagement with government at all levels – Stephen Collins. Presentation Paper.
- 1010 Citizen engagement and community participation online: The Canadian experience – Michael De Percy. Presentation slides.
- 1020 Government service delivery in the new contexts of (a) broadband, (b) highly diverse access devices, (c) highly diverse patterns of use, and (d) highly diverse human needs – Roger Clarke. Presentation paper.
- 1030 Short coffee break
- 1040 Rural and regional accessibility in regard to accessing agricultural and environmental information for those working on research and on-ground change – Nerida Hart. Links for her work at the Regional Knowledge Resource Kit, NRM Navigator & Knowledge for Regional Natural Resource Management
- 1050 Human factors in broadband telehealth – Duncan Stevenson. Supporting documentation.
- 1100 Online video publishing possibilities and technology needs – Dr Silvia Pfeiffer. Blog post
- 1110 Privacy and filtering * – David Vaile. Presentation video and on Youtube.
- 1120 The successfully rollout of FTTH in an Australian regional town and how it expands towns with populations of a few hundred, to hundreds of thounsands. Also the economic modeling required – Adrian Blake. Presentation slides
- 1130 High Bandwidth – getting things done: particularly in respect to dealing with complex real world problems, emergency management and dealing with skills shortages. This is relevant to both the commercial and community sectors – James Dellow. Presentation slides.
- 1140 Brief presentation on perspectives put forward on the blog for comment – Pia Waugh
- 1155 Thanks and close of event
UPDATE: The video of the event was streamed online, however unfortunately the recording failed. We shall fix this for the next Public Sphere event, however Craig Thomler – one of the attendees – did an excellent live blog during the event that covered a lot of the content. In the comments below are links to many other blogs and other perspectives related to the event and the topic. Thank you everyone for your contributions.
- Rusty Russell had to cancel his session on The impact of high speed bandwidth on the music and film industry due to a work commitment. Dr Silvia Pfeiffer will be covering a little of this ground.
- Andrew Boyd had to cancel his session Making government accessible due to technical difficulties.
- Jeff Waugh had to cancel his talk. Replaced by Duncan Stevenson. Personal Publishing, Archival and the Consequences of Upstream (bandwidth)