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By Dr Ruth Zanker,

The New Zealand Broadcasting School, CPIT

14th February 06.

Mediascape is a very special digital public space designed for all New Zealanders. Today you see the first stage of a much larger vision for this digital public space….in turn, designed to become part of a larger vision for a ‘NZ on Line’, the intranet for 4 million kiwis.

We’ve designed the first stage to be useful, accessible and fun. At the moment it offers lots of information and viewpoints of interest to families and whanau, primarily designed for parents, but there is something there for all to build on - young to wrinklies, producers, policy makers and researchers.

As well as funding from the sponsors we have been supported ably in the venture by the CPIT web unit who have tailored an open source content management system which has large potential to scale. Watch this space: it will become much more interactive in the future…..this is just the beginning.

So we have seeded the Mediascape oyster bed. With your input it will grow into a rich and trusted place for media information exchange and debate.

Some tasters of the rich potential:

- Video - go to Pukana

- Sound – go to One boys war

- Languages – go to Family/whanau parents section

- Interactive story telling – go to Showcase Media memories

Planned are

- searchable databases and repositories of research

- audio visual archives (we need to broker creative commons agreement to enable this fully)

- interactive forums wikis

- interactive learning object

I’d like to share two brief snapshots from the early gestation of Mediascape to illustrate its goals.

Snapshot one: half a decade ago.

I am speaking in the Great Hall at another symposium, that time on children and the media, run by The Children’s Television Foundation and the then Commissioner for Children. In my short speech I noted that we often fear new media and what it might bring into our children’s lives. I suggested that, whilst caution is sensible, we should also embrace the opportunities new media provide for all of us. Media literacy is the bedrock for political and cultural literacy these days…adults and children alike. Yet many parents feel anxiety and guilt about the role of media in their children’s lives because the headlines are often alarmist. We offer ways to understand and use media content and make wise media choices to suit each and everyone of our families.

I also looked forward to broadband connectedness in NZ for what it would give us….

Community: where it no longer matters if you live in Wellington or Gore.

Places: where we can learn from each other and our stories can be told.

In Showcase you’ll find the glittering media prizes, but you will also find Media memories: space for Hemi from Hokitika and Mildred from Masterton to tell their media stories. We plan audio and visuals for this area.

Also look at the one minute videos made by children from around the world.


- there are some parts of that interactive digital vision of half a decade ago yet to fall into place.

- We can provide content, we can encourage confidence by users…

- but we still do not all have the connection.

Broadband is patchy and more needs to be done to reach the capacity for digital story-telling that the BBC is pioneering.

We also need to tidy up access to our past media archives.

Snapshot two:

Picture a very cluttered academic’s office and library at the New Zealand broadcasting school. Shelves bursting at the seams, cartons of treasure, pictures tacked on the wall, spilling files, piles of unfiled paper….

Picture now one librarian Bindy Barclay (erstwhile Children’s Television chair) and one media researcher Ruth Zanker as they chew the fat about media issues and a yet to be written submission to a select committee.

Bindy’s librarian’s eyes look despairingly around the room…She says

‘there has to be a better way to access and understand the local media system’

‘There has to be ONE PLACE to go for all this STUFF’

…..and we shared one of those Eureka moments….

We would create a website where information about the New Zealand media regulations, policy and research (even creative productions) could be found, explained and made accessible. Then anyone could make informed decisions about media use. It seemed so obvious!!

And then the hard work began….

This is where being in the Polytechnic system became a benefit.

We found support in the industry networks of the New Zealand Broadcasting School, and the technical expertise inside Polytechnic.

We have designed it so that information flows in all directions. It has driven some of our creative team mad…but it is very important to us.

Top down communication:

- Regulators can explain systems and processes to citizens.

- Researchers can contribute to policy

Bottom up lines of communication:

- Citizens can be heard by policy makers whether they live in Bluff or Kaitaia

Communities can create archives of digital stories

And yes, it looks like we are producing a website on steroids….

Thank yous

CPIT foundation for seeding money.

Sponsors: ASA, BSA Families Commission for the imagination and courage to back us knowing that we held editorial control…

Visionaries: Thank you David Copeland, Penny Carnaby and Reg Russ for saying ‘go for it’

Organizational wizards: Kevin Adamson CPIT director of Information Technology who was godfather of the project planning spreadsheets

John Garroway, CPIT librarian: you instantly saw the opportunities for repositories and archiving and urged us on.

Keith Baronian, CPIT research head: you encouraged us to research options further. Other researchers have also contributed.

Roy Shuker, Trisha Dunleavy, Ian Hassall, Donald Matheson, Geoff Lealand, Gareth Schott, Craig Hight, Paul Norris, Brian Pauling and others who responded to our letter. Jim Tucker from the JTO

Laurence Zwimpfer for the endorsement from the National Commission for Unesco.

And Gordon Lawrence, one of the pioneers of media education in Aotearoa NZ.

AND now thanks to some very clever Digital natives who guided Bindy and me as the Digital immigrants.

You brought realism and creativity to our vision

- Kris Thornley from CPIT web unit: you chose our open source system and creatively tinkered to enable the mind-blowing options for the future.

-Chris Webster from the NZBS who moonlighted to produced the clever cartoons

- Kate Hickey and Lisa Galarneau who both came ‘just in time’

- And above all Kate Hindin our very clever designer from New Media Design who has been with us since the first yellow post-it brainstorm in that cluttered library office.

Finally thanks to our children who teach us everyday why it matters to have NZ digital spaces in which to stand tall, learn from each other and tell our stories in this globalizing world.


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