Communication Infrastructures

Photo by Jeff Hopper on Unsplash

My understanding of media ecology is that it is a sort of way of defining media and its environment and how media interacts with people, the internet, infrastructure and business. It is very difficult to give it an exact definition, as like nothing before it, apart from electricity, it is evolving, changing and adapting to and around our lives at super speed which means its definition is allows in constant flux. The NBN in Australia falls into the category of infrastructure and therefore forms a part of our media ecology.

The NBN promises to connect Australia and its people to the rest of the world with much faster and more reliable internet. However, as part of the population live in rural areas where it is not cost effective to install NBN cables to rural properties. This means their media ecology differs from those is say suburban areas. This unevenness is a direct contradiction to NBNs original promise. It will mean thousands of Australians are disadvantaged especially when it comes to work and study.

Brunswick used as an example makes it is easy to see that NBN might not be for everyone and that equilibrium may not mean balance (Wilkens et al, 2013). Nansen (2013) indicates that the digital literature is illegible and incoherent, referring to the NBN and its trial. There were two things to be learnt from the poll that was undertaken. That people either weren’t literate when it came to technology and change and also that the information provided in the first place was not universally understandable, giving the NBN even less connection to not just the internet but the people themselves. This provides even more evidence that distribution unevenness was not the only portion of the program that is uneven.

The roll out of the NBN in Brunswick showed unusual statistics relating to the acceptance and subsequent installation of the new internet medium compared to other suburbs selected for the initial trial. The first struggle for the people on the ground in Brunswick was the effort, cost and time that had to be put into getting the NBN installed and connected. Wilkens (2013) claims that the NBN rollout became a troubling process instead of a pleasant singular event, taking up to 2 months and involving up to 4 different entities.

Wilken (2013) states that 46% of people living in Brunswick at the time of the testing done were renting. Tenants that wanted the NBN installed had to have a consent form signed by their landlord which delayed the process and made it too difficult. This indicates that the process may have been rushed or not thought out enough to be rolled out effectively. A process that was to be a great advancement for Australia had setbacks and faults, showing that an improvement is not always better.

There are greater issues that need to be answered relating to the NBN and where it fits in the current and future media ecology as more people are moving to roaming devices being fed wirelessly with no need for cables at all. People are increasingly moving from their study to communal areas. With a lengthy process and increase cost it would be a hard decision to decide to move to the NBN when wireless is more versatile. The process of NBN versus wireless is a no-brainer in terms of complexity, time and understanding of the process (Wilkens et al, 2013).

The NBN is now a functioning part of Australia’s communicative ecological environment however it has its pitfalls such as reach, implementation difficulties and misunderstandings that could be related in part to the illegibility of NBNs communications (Nansen et al, 2013). However it is the system we have and it has changed Australia’s ecological system in varying ways that we may still not have come to identify and acknowledge.

References:

Nansen, B, et al (2013), ‘Digital Literacies and the National Broadband Network: Competency, Legibility, Context’, Media International Australia, 145: Nov.

Wilken, R, et al (2013), ‘National, local and household media ecologies: The case of Australia’s National Broadband Network’, Communication, Politics & Culture, 46, pp.136–154.

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