About the program
You know how Geek in Residence places one (or more) geeks with one arts organisation for about a year? Well we’re just starting a new model, NBN Geeks, to help artists and orgs in the first NBN rollout areas get ready for broadband.
This preparation will consist of a few months of private consultations and audits, networking sessions, and scheduled workshops leading to content creation and then exchange between two (or more) communities. The objective is to help Australian artists and organisations to better maximise the potential that the NBN offers: to help more Australians engage with more Australian content.
We haven’t yet decided exactly where this activity will take place, but we have contracted two Geeks, Alex Parker (Sydney) and Julian Stadon (Perth) to develop and deliver the program between now and December. It won’t be as in-depth as the 12month version of the program, obviously, but it will be a good way to get people started.
A note on the NBN
It is important to note that until the last cable has been laid the national infrastructure is still a work-in-progress. These five hubs are simply a disconnected collection of local networks hosting approximately 3000 premises (think of it like an intranet in a very large office). This means that while some of the local community in, say, Townsville will be connected to each other by high speed fibre, any connection over to one of the other hubs (say, Willunga) will revert to normal internet speeds (e.g. standard ADSL) between the two hubs. So if an artist wanted to create an artwork designed specifically for experiencing on the NBN, it would essentially need to be downloaded in advance (or couriered between the sites) to be experienced in the manner it was designed.
The second issue is with regards the date by which consumers will be able to access the NBN. Each of the five locations has a forecast release date which takes into account the whole process. First the fibre must be buried in the ground, then a wholesale provider will negotiate to deliver a service to the consumer, then the consumer must order and have the service activated. There are likely to be delays between the forecast dates and the time that an artist or organisation could actually get their artwork out to the network.
This project might not result in work being experienced on the NBN itself. However the skills developed in this project will enable the creative communities to maximise opportunities from the NBN as soon as it does become available to them. It is also a model that can be adapted for each of the future rollout areas, since each community will become a knowledge bank, ready to engage with the newcomers.
A program will be developed between Alex and Julian (the NBN Geeks) and the Australia Council around the following areas.
Audits – helping each artist/organisation to define what equipment they have, what software they use, etc, to determine where the gaps in software/hardware/training might be. This will help the organisations discover what they don’t know, and help them to begin to find solutions.
Consultations – Many of the artists/orgs will know what they want to achieve but not know how to achieve it. One-to-one sessions can be arranged for deeper discussion into those areas. The Geek might be able to provide direct advice, or could provide links to online resources for their further research (for example, the online audience engagement research and social media advice blog collection), or connect them to the wider Geek community or another specialist.
Workshops – A strong emphasis for the NBN Geek program is on content development. Since the NBN provides a great opportunity for the making and sharing of content, it is important that artists/organisations can develop skills in creating and distributing digital content. Workshops could cover: digital imaging, video production, cross media production, interactive media, podcasting/webcasting, online community development, etc.
These can be delivered as broad group activities, or if a smaller group wanted some more specialist focus in to a more niche specialism this could possibly be developed as a bespoke activity. Some of these workshops could be delivered with the assistance of the Geek in Residence community across the country, offering advice and support and specialist knowledge where required.
Networking – A common complaint with arts organisations is that they don’t know who to turn to with their technical questions. The Geek Speed Dating model has been really successful in helping them to find the right trusted network of geeks. Networking also helps the artists and organisations see that many of their problems are shared, and therefore many of their solutions could also be shared.
We currently imagine two main networking events plus a number of smaller informal ones as required. The first will bring everyone in the local community together and give them a taste of what is to come with presentations from some of the Geek in Residence community. The second will be a final showcase, to exchange content with that from another hub, and critically examine their experiences with that other community.
All this is just to give you a flavour of what might happen. Full details will be posted here and on twitter (use hashtag #residentgeeks) when plans are more concrete.
this post was first published on residentgeeks.net, and re-posted here since it affects the overall artsdigitalera program.