Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It is here at last

I started this blog way back in December by welcoming the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to the blogsphere. Tonight (until dawn) the Minister launched the report that the blog fed into.

I guess the report will get tossed around a lot. There will be some like Stuart Corner that will be disappointed that it didn't read like a business plan - with clearly stated goals, measurement processes and neat strategies for its implementation. But in the end those kinds of reports aren't much use either.

As was noted in the introductory chapters of the Glasson report Government has a limited array of activities it can pursue. These include legislation, taxation, incentive payments or investments. The only other toool they have is to "define the conversation". In a more lyrical moment I might talk more about the importance of that, and how in the real world real decision makers are very much "boundedly rational". The significance of framing the conversation is that you can direct the conversation.

The final report has done a wonderful job of providing some structure to that framing discussion. It has created a degree of vision about what the Digital Economy entails, carvd out roles for Government, Industry and the Community, and talked a bit about how progress will be measured. For each of the three sectors three "elements of a successful digital economy" have been outlined.

These are;
Government: lays the foundations for digital infrastructure
Government: facilitates innovation
Government: sets conducive regulatory frameworks
Industry: demonstrates digital confidence and builds digital skills
Industry: adopts smarter technology for environmental sustainability
Industry: develops sustainable online content models
Community: enjoys digital confidence and digital media literacy
Community: experiences inclusive digital participation
Community: benefits through online engagement

These are really valuable structures to frame the discussion. It is particularly valuable that the term "industry" refers to all productive sectors of the economy not just the ICT industry. It is also useful to note how the three sectors of government-industry-community are described as inter-relating.

It is perhaps a pity that what has been forced into the frame is much the same discussion as was in the original consultation paper and that between them all the individuals and groups who submitted weren't able to shake some new ideas loose.

I imagine there will be more critics than just Stuart. It perhaps isn't as sexy as Digital Britain, it couldn't copy the simple "four Cs" model from New Zealand (confidence, connnectivity, capability, content - I think).

The success of the Directions Paper will be measured by how much the framework can be used for framing discussion. That is something that can only be judged in time.

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