28 May 2003
From O'Connor to Forrest By Bicycle
In the past I have prepared "live to web" technical travelogues from exotic locations across the world. These usually combine a visit to an information technology event or institution, with some travel photos and cultural activities. Last week I realized that where I live is normal to me, but will be exotic to many others. So here is a short travelogue from today, 28 May 2003.
The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) had invited me to a workshop on Broadband and E-Culture in Canberra. In a sense this trip started in London in 2000, when I took the Eurostar to Paris to visit UNESCO's Observatory on the Information Society. . NOIE's office is about seven kilometres from O'Connor, where I live in my "Smart Apartment". Rather than drive, I decided to ride my new Folding Bicycle and take some photos on the way. There was no need to ride or any roads as there are bicycle paths the whole way.
This trip starts in O'Connor, an inner Canberra suburb and goes along a bicycle path through parkland beside Sullivans Creek. Just next to my home the David Street wetland has been built by volunteers to clean up the water quality and encourage wildlife.
Normally I would go straight along the path to the Australian National University (ANU) to my office. But I turned east, skirting past the edge of the campus, past "Civic" (Canberra's city Centre) the Canberra School of Music (across from the site of the new National ICT Centre of Excellence).
A walking bridge over the freeway then took me to the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, with the National Museum of Australia visible across the lake. The easiest way across the lake is to go under Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (with a view of the National Library of Australia and the High Court) and then up and over towards Parliament House.
Taking the ring road to the south of Parliament House, I noticed the security cordon thrown up around the building. There was an anti-terrorist exercise in progress and so I decided not to go an closer. Past the historic St. John's Church it was then just a few hundred metres to NOIE HQ at the Burns Centre.
The hard part was now to find somewhere to put the bicycle. Everyone else seemed to have arrived by car. The security guard looked suspiciously at my tangle of steel which is a folded bicycle. But one of the NOIE staff kindly put it in their office. The meeting was already in progress (taking all the photos slowed me down), so I sat down and got my breath back.
Mr John Rimmer, NOIE CEO, Welcome
Dr Karin Geiselhart, NOIE Overview
Mr Chris Deacon, Artsound FM, Broadband and Community Radio
Mrs Rhonda Porter, Media Teacher, Dickson College, Secondary Education, Student & Community Opportunities
Ms Eleanor Gates-Stuart & Dr Alistair Riddell, ACAT (Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology), Visions of Collaborations between Community and Industry
David Marshall, Talk Force Communications, Facilitator, Practical Outcomes
Mandy Thomas, ANU,Partnerships in Research, Broadband Technology and Communities
Stavros Georgiadis, ACT Filmmakers, Local Film Industry and Broadband
David Marshall, Talk Force Communications, Facilitator, Ongoing relationships and collaborations
Dr Karin Geiselhart, NOIE, Conclusion
The workshop didn't start well, as I got an e-mail invitation with nothing in it except an error message. After a few more fractured messages I worked out this was a NOIE project about how grass roots community organizations in Canberra might use broadband. Also it was to feature the launch of CreativeCanberra.net.
Fortunately I persevered with the event and attended the workshop. About one third of the room were familiar from university projects, community arts, local and federal government. After the formal start by the NOIE CEO, the event had an introduction by Karen Geiselhart (the force behind the whole day) and some local cultural content workers.
The workshop then had a series of brainstorming sessions, with writing ideas on coloured paper and the like. Someone kept collecting the bits of paper so I assume the results will be collated and published at some point.
Each time the workshop risked becoming into an arts-mafia talk-fest, the facilitator would close the session and move on. It was a slightly pressure cooker atmosphere with everything being videotaped and someone at the back furiously typing on a keyboard. As well as the arts times there were people from Transact, GrangeNet and other technical types.
When asked how I could contribute, I said I would do a travel report about my bicycle trip in. The point of this was to make sure that this wasn't just seen as an exercise for large corporate research organizations. It is people communicating with other people who actually live and work in the Canberra community.
We could get some Canberra multimedia content into the Australian Creative Resources Archive. The archive will be in Brisbane, but accessible from ANU via GrangeNet's gigabit connection. Last year I suggested to ACT Filmmakers' Network that we could test serving up their content via ANU and then possibly trial it on Transact (see footnote of my talk).
Copyright Tom Worthington 2003