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Australian broadbandWhen Federal Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Minister, Helen Coonan, presented the 2006 Andrew Olle Media Lecture there was no mention of the need to equip the digital natives in Australian schools with the high speed broadband facilities available to other students elesewhere in Asia and western world. This month Rupert Murdoch labelled labelled broadband services in Australia a “disgrace”. Interestingly Senator Coonan pointed out:

Digital immigrants are, on the whole, outpaced by the hoards of digital natives who do not see technology as technology but as an appendage. It’s not technology to the teens – it’s routine, it’s run-of-the-mill, it’s life.

They don’t marvel about how their mobile or their computer has made their life easier or more convenient – they can barely remember a time when these essentials did not exist.

The Pew Internet Project in the US found that the average 21 year old has, in all probability, spent 5000 hours playing video games, exchanged around 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and phone text messages, and has spent 10,000 hours on a mobile phone and 3500 hours online.

Waiting for educational content to download Australian students will be spending a lot more hours online than their American cohorts for a while yet. Apparently we are not complaining though. If you’d like to listen to the Federal Communications Minister trying to grapple with the speed at which the media landscape is changing, ABC Sydney has made this years 2006 Andrew Olle Lecture available as an mp3 here.

This is The Future