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Judith Tizard's Address to Digital Future Summit

Address to Digital Future Summit

It is my view that digital content should be - and must be - at the heart of the broader digital strategy.

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E nga iwi, e nga waka, e nga reo, e nga Rangitira ma. Tena kotou, tena katou, tena tatou katoa.

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak here today and put one of the three aspects of the Digital Strategy into its broader context. It is my view that digital content should be - and must be - at the heart of the broader digital strategy.

Content seems, sometimes, to be overshadowed by debates surrounding the challenges and costs of technology. Fascinating and challenging though connectivity and confidence are they are both just enablers for content - it's the content that counts - let's face it most users don't care how they access content online, just as long as they can.

For example - while I regularly check email, texts, messages, even browse the web from my Blackberry, I rarely think about the technology behind it. Unless it's not working or working very slowly.

Digital content capability is vitally important to this country and deserves the recognition and status that it has been accorded in the recently released New Zealand Digital Content Strategy.

Today I will briefly outline that strategy. I will highlight the potential contribution that quality content can make to New Zealand's economic transformation and to our national identity; to our businesses, to our communities and to every citizen. I will cover the important role digital content can play in building community connections and universal accessibility, and finally, demonstrate how it can provide an important bridge across the 3 key sectors - business, government and community.

Our goal is to see New Zealand go beyond a knowledge economy to become a Knowledge Society. We want to see the creation of a Bank of New Zealand Knowledge, where every New Zealander deposits and withdraws what they need and what they can contribute.

I will be followed by Penny Carnaby, National Librarian and CEO of the National Library of New Zealand, who will bring the Digital Content Strategy to life with some examples of how different sectors are benefiting from a strong and strategic digital content direction.

But first some background. As a 'digital strategy' minister and through my various roles as Minister Responsible for the National Library and Archives NZ, and as Associate Minister for both Arts Culture and Heritage and Commerce, I have a very strong interest in collecting, preserving and making our digital content available.

Some of you may be wondering why the National Library was made the lead agency for the Content Strategy. Those unfamiliar with this amazing institution may be curious as to its role and value in the digital world. Let me assure you that this scepticism was shared by some across the government. While the courts may assert an indivisibility of government the reality is that there are 41 Ministries, 17 SOEs, 37 Crown Entities, 28 Crown Agencies as well as hundreds of Boards, Authorities and other QUANGOs, all of which have developed their own computer systems since told to do so in the '80s.

That's a total of 123 government bodies with different roles and responsibilities to be consulted if we want to start a whole-of-government approach on just this strategy. And then there is the education sector, the health sector and the GLAM sector - galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, which each has their own "authoritative content".

We will have to change more than our information frameworks if we are going to be able to have a meta-data search capacity right across government.

National libraries were developed as trusted storehouses of our physical documentary heritage, but always central to this role has been the management and preservation of national content. The National Library therefore is the best broker to lead New Zealand's digital content approach and the Digital Content Strategy has already led to a much more collaborative approach in many aspects of many government agencies current work as well as the way information is collected, crated, stored, preserved and made available, now and for the future.

As Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I know that top quality, creative, and New Zealand content has a critical role to play in promoting and enhancing our unique heritage and national identity so that it remains strong, visible and accessible.

Whether it's watching New Zealand drama and documentaries on Freeview, researching family and community history on the web, or accessing the world's first online encyclopedia, Te Ara, digital content is central in developing and supporting our cultures, histories and identities in our digital future.
On Monday I launched the new SOUNZ website, jointly funded by the Community Partnerships fund of the National Digital Strategy and Creative New Zealand, which put more than 5000 scores and 500 recordings; the work of 266 composers, 21 publishers, and 200 performers of NZ music which had been held in 29 data bases into one place so orchestras, schools, students, performers in NZ and world-wide can hear it, buy it, download it and enjoy it.
This example needs to be repeated across everything we are doing across New Zealand's wider creative and cultural sectors.
This content, whether formal, informal, social, or official must not be allowed to fade away or just vanish. It must be captured and preserved for future generations. It is our whakapapa.

What the Digital Content sets out to achieve

The Digital Content Strategy is quite new - it was launched in September and shares the vision of the Digital Strategy, for:
"New Zealand to be a world leader in using information and technology to realize its economic, social, environmental and cultural goals to the benefit of all its people."

Content is vital to this - and the strategy provides a clear road map for a content-rich, digital New Zealand, where New Zealanders are actively engaged in creating, discovering, sharing and using digital content.

The strategy covers five key outcomes which broadly cover themes of creating and protecting content, accessing and using content, and preserving and understanding content.

Growth in digital communications and of data has exploded, and we're seeing a whole new generation of young adults who are growing up digital.

We're also increasingly seeing content creators providing their works on line - authors, artists and musicians, researchers and educators, innovators and designers. That's great in that it opens up new works to new audiences and can bring countless new opportunities. But it raises questions as to how we protect content, that artwork, that piece of research.

How do we make sure the creator's moral and economic rights are protected, their work and the use of their work is respected and valued?

This is of particular interest to me in my role as Associate Minister of Commerce as I am responsible for most of the intellectual property policy area. I see this role as a combination of providing education - for example the recently launched Te Mana Taumara Matauranga -the intellectual property guide for Maori - and refereeing the reasonable but sometimes competing interests of the range of owners and consumers of intellectual and creative property. I believe that free access to the widest range of information is essential to innovation and development so I want to see as much possible publicly available but I accept some reservations.

I have also taken on work to help protect traditional knowledge for Maori and to assist Pacific people in their efforts to preserve and protect their cultures, languages and knowledge. Clearly, Mâori culture and Mâtauranga Mâori is unique and is a crucial part of what makes New Zealand the remarkable nation it is.

Traditional knowledge is vital to Maori culture and may also have significant economic value some of which can be protected by copyright and other legal measures but much collectively held knowledge can not.

We need to be innovative about developing new means of protecting and educating people about use of and respect for knowledge. The recent launch of the Creative Commons Aotearoa Licences which enable practical management of ownership rights and the sharing of digital works is a very a good step in the right direction.

Digital content is being accessed and used
We want to see all New Zealand content able to be easily accessed, and all New Zealanders to be able to use digital content. Ensuring a rich mine of uniquely New Zealand content provides the raw materials for social, cultural and economic innovation and development.

We can't anticipate the ways this content will be used in the future, nor what people will require so we need to keep everything we can.

Making Kiwi content available to New Zealanders digitally provides discovery and learning about our country and people, for us and to the world while contributing to our national identity.

The largest holders of content in New Zealand are the public and tertiary sectors. We need to make that content easily accessible everywhere and anywhere, so that users can readily make seamless connections across collections of content - no matter where it is held or stored.

A great example of this in action is KRIS - the Kiwi Research Information Service where a range of research and education agencies are collaborating to unlock content through shared portals.

Heritage institutions like the National Library of New Zealand, Te Papa, and Archives New Zealand are undertaking similar collaborative programmes.

They are also providing a vital feed into of publicly available content, both formal and informal. This public digital space will ultimately connect business, communities and government in an interactive, social and universally accessible, interactive network. For business and community innovators and creatives it provides a virtual test ground to try out new ideas, gauge interest, and test the market.

For communities, the public digital space provides the opportunity to cheaply and effectively communicate information without the barrier of distance, and have new outlets for engagement, like community television via Freeview, discussion boards, wikis and blogs.

For government it provides a better way to consult with citizens - for example the Police Act review wiki, -to be more accessible - as in Parliament TV and NZLive.com- and to develop genuine participation and connection to decide how we living together in New Zealand in the 21st century.

It also opens us up to global markets, to businesses, to students, to communities across the world. And at the end of the day, it is the users that stand to benefit the most from more and better digital content.

The Digital Divide
A key issue raised in the strategy is user access - what is often termed the digital divide. Exclusion from a digital New Zealand is a major concern for this Government.

Around 30 per cent of households still do not have computer access at home and 35 per cent don't have access to the Internet. Recent research findings from AUT also show that Iinternet access is socially stratified: 94 per cent of those in households earning more than $100,000 are internet users - but only 58 per cent in households earning less than $25,000.

But exclusion is about more than just web access. For many of us our lives are surrounded by digital communications - computers at home and work, mobile phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, even game consoles. But for others it may be something they avoid, opt out of, or they simply don't have the opportunity to be part of. And that has huge implications for work, recreation and social participation.

While access to digital technology will help, social and cultural resources also play a central role. Providing opportunities for people to create, share and use digital content is an essential avenue towards creating a fairer society. It also needs to be done in a supportive environment. Having the right networks where digital communication technologies are used and valued, and where there is access to people who can provide practical support and help is also necessary.

This is exactly the environment we are trying to create in some of the more recent community initiatives, like Kete Horowhenua and the Aoteaoroa People's Network.

These projects, which Penny will outline in her case studies, have been supported by the hugely successful Community Partnership Fund. They provide often isolated communities with opportunities to connect and share their stories. And they use their libraries, these central, safe places, to house the technology, the resources and the support people.

Digital Preservation
Considerable thought also needs to be given to how we preserve digital content. There is the digitising of the mountains of paper records, books, films, and photographs which is an enormous challenge but just as difficult is the dealing with of the oceans of born-digital content.

A key initiative to address this is the National Digital Heritage Archive, which the Labour-led government has invested $24 million in.

We know vastly more data will be created in a digital environment, and we need quality systems to ensure that records are useable, both now and in the future so that people can re-engage with it, reuse it, and gain ongoing value from it

We expect this project in preserving digital content for future generations to be fully up and running around 2009. You'll hear more about this in one of Penny's case studies.

One of the challenges around preservation is deciding how we decide what do we keep and what we do leave out? Not everything that's being created needs to be or should be kept but how do we judge what will be needed?

How will we know today what's important tomorrow - the librarian or curator or archivist's eternal question? We don't have all the answers but the Digital Heritage Archive project provides a very good foundation and start.

Understanding the digital environment
Looking ahead now, we need to maintain a good understanding of the digital environment, and where it's heading. This is exactly what we are doing with an initiative aimed at improving knowledge about New Zealanders' use and access to the Internet.

Earlier, I mentioned some research from the AUT. I am very pleased to be able to share with you some high level findings of a survey undertaken by them which plugs New Zealand into the World Internet Project. It's a telling story about the growing role of the new media in our society.

Respondents rate the Internet above all other sources as an important source of information (62%), compared to newspapers and TV (both 54%) and radio (46%). The Internet even rates above interpersonal sources such as family and friends (58%), despite non-users being included in these responses.

And from a content perspective an important proportion of New Zealanders generate their own content on the web, especially those under 30 years. 13% of all users have their own website. 27% have posted messages on discussion/message boards, and 33% have posted pictures, photos or videos on the web. 10% have their own blog, with 21% of bloggers being under 20 years of age. And with these sorts of statistics it' not surprising that users say that the Internet has increased their contact with other people, far fewer report that it has decreased contact.

Conclusion - the challenges ahead
Clearly the web and digital age has revolutionised how we think, work and play. And I hope today I've convinced you that content is central to the digital world now and for the future.

Our aim is to be a world leader in creating and innovating with digital content, making sure New Zealand content is easy to access and discover, ensuring that Kiwi content is well managed and kept safe and that as a nation, we understand the vital role of digital content in our future, all the while holding on to the essential New Zealand values of fairness, access and opportunity for all.

These goals present significant challenges. We need imaginative, skilled people in this space; we need content and technology that is made with New Zealanders in mind.

And we need to consider accessibility and usability across all users and all cultures. That means designing digital content that can be accessed in different languages, for people with differing abilities and disabilities and ensuring that access speeds are as fast as needed to access what we need.

We have taken the first step by building a future-focused roadmap through the Digital Content Strategy. As David Cunliffe has said we ask you at this Summit to go on thinking and contributing to this strategy and assisting in its ongoing development.

I thank you for your time today and look forward to seeing the ideas and new alliances and connections generated from this Summit.

ENDS

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