Thursday, 5 February 2009

NZ Digital Development Council and Forum - new tent - map and compass

Just of the Scoop wire is the news which has been circulating in Wellington for the last few days - that NZ Minister of Information Technology, Communication, Steven Joyce has canned the BIF, [Broadband Investment Fund] and withdrawn funding to the Digital Development Council.

He says,“The BIF was not compatible with the Government’s roll out of ultra fast broadband to the premises - it had its own specific set of criteria and was not focused on our key objective of achieving widespread ultra fast broadband"

On the DDC, “Funding for the DDC has been withdrawn because it is our intention to work instead directly through the relevant industry groups"

DDC - Digital Development Council
Just to be clear here, although some media, e.g. Computerworld are reporting that the DDC " is gone" this isn't exactly true. For sure the $820, 000 funding over three years , promised by the last government is gone, but as I understand it, the DDC is set up as an incorporated society, and there is nothing to stop it going forward under its own steam.

Digital Development Forum
Moreover, the parallel group, the Digital Development Forum , which was also set up by the last government as a sector based forum for discussion between the business, education, cultural, creative and ICT sectors , doesn't have a formal structure at all.

In other words there is nothing to stop the members of the DDC keeping the Council active, and supporting the ongoing work streams already identified by some of the sector groups inside the Digital Development Forum.

Creative/ Cultultural Sector
As to why should they should - and why you should care - well, although the structure sounded complicated both the Forum and the Council have been doing some interesting stuff.

On a personal level I can testify that the Creative/Cultural sector representatives who attended the first session of the Digital Development Forum late last year, really did have a proper conversation.

In the process they faced up to some really thorny contention issues between their two worlds - especially around how to share digital content - how to monetise it, and how to make sure that individual rights to imagination - expression and compensation could live and and prosper inside the new emerging public digital space being created by the likes of the GLAM, galleries, libraries, archives and and museum, sector.

These are not easy issue to even begin to talk about - they are even harder when some of the players have never been in the same room before - far less managed to talk to each other at any level that could command their combined interest. This happened at the first session of the Forum on . I was there. I saw it!

They even managed to come up with a plan - albeit an ambitious one - i.e. stay connected and spend real energy and commitment to collaboratively figuring what needs to be done to:

- Develop new IP structures
- Develop new business models
- Develop new forms of digital public space

Better Map and Compass?
There is still the chance to keep this work alive - however it needs the DDC to hang in there and try and figure out new ways of funding both their ongoing existence and the work streams identified to date by the Forum and the Council members.

In short, there is totally no need for the DDC, or the DDF to walk into the snow - both parties just need a new tent, and a better map and compass.

The collaboration word
As for Steven Joyce - for sure he is totally within his rights to say ,“We remain committed to engaging with the groups represented by the DDC but believe that direct interface is a much more effective means of receiving input and advice from these organisations.”

Fair enough - however, sooner or later, he is going to find out that for many of the issues that need attention, it's not all about who he talks to on an individual basis - rather its all about the various sectors who want to build , drive and steer the digital bus, collaborating as well as competing.


Unknown said...

The DDC's existence as a single voice to Government was always wrong. I had thought this was very clear from the beginning. So, the new Minister's biffing it means that he was poorly briefed - obviously by someone who was too deeply involved with the previous Minister.

Instead, the DDCs opportunities were to foster collaberation (apparently now a forbidden word) among the parties for shared and effective ends.

The DDC was also alwaus supposed to actively pursue funds outside of Government. Certainly in its early days this was very clear to Fran Wilde. Has this been done?

If a body exists ONLY to take money from the Government and not to add any value, then, in my view it deserves to be shot.

What has the DDC done to secure other sources of Funds? Have they approached the Tindall Foundation? The Todd Foundation? The Digital Opportunities Fund? The Liz Dengate Thrush Foundation? The Community Trusts? Local and Regional Councils? The various Iwi? The Churches? Indeed, from the IT Industry?

With its composition, the Council should be providing very good introductions and advice to the CEO who I am sure will be only too happy to actively pursue other sources.

The DDC as a forum only for collaboration of Digital type organisations was always dumb. As a funnel for money into its constituencies was also always dumb - and fraught. As a forum for leveraging people's ideas and activities - it was well worth while.

Fran & Paul - Drive the baby, drive it.

Don Hollander
Book Seller

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