I return again this week after having another conversation with my Uncle Kenny. This time we move beyond the introduction of Television and take a look into the near technological future that is the National Broadband Network (NBN) or as I like to call it the Fiber-Optic-Internet-Utopia. As I am sure it will be made obvious by the end of this post, I am a firm supporter of the NBN and believe that Australia should have started laying out fiber-optic cables direct to the home years ago. While there are many debates circulating over the necessity of such an expensive endeavor, I feel it cannot be denied that our current copper wire network is already outdated and stands no chance of adequately supporting our future internet usage. I worry Australia will fall behind the rest of the world, in terms of speed and connectivity, which will ultimately isolate us from the interconnected age of opportunity.
“Building a broadband network will, as the government has pointed out, have the same kind of transformational impact as the railways in the 19th and 20th centuries”. Rod Tucker
“This gives Australia the chance to leap ahead and give the people and the businesses of our country a head-start in the digital economy. Think about what that can do for job creation and productivity.” Paul Budde
It was interesting to discuss this with my uncle because although he feels the same way about the inadequate nature of the current copper network and understands the level of improvement a fiber-optic network would bring, he, unlike myself, is entirely indifferent to it. While I wait anxiously for progress (despite the fact roll-out hasn’t even started in my area), he is completely un-phased. To be honest, before doing some research of my own this week, I was unaware of what the NBN actually was but I was still passionate about it. All I knew is that I desperately wanted a faster internet connection, so I could finally play my Xbox without lag and stream movies without screaming at my laptop. Anything that promised an end to this first world torment was good enough for me. My Uncle on the other hand knew everything there was to know about NBN and fiber optic cables; including how they worked (which he explained to me against my will). The simplest way he put it was “NBN is like a super highway while copper wire is like a dirt road”…“the dirt is fine when only a few people use it, but once you get everyone driving at once, it’s just too small and eventually it starts to decay”. He told me that the copper wires are already in a bad state and will continue to need constant maintenance which is going be costly in the long run. “This is why”, he states, “the NBN is a far better option to Liberals ridiculous Node system”.
I asked him what he thought the future held with the introduction of high speed internet and he replied “Major business and economic change” as well as “change in our everyday lives”. Asking him what he meant by this, he gave me some examples such as: connecting in real time with people around the world, sending and receiving large amounts of data instantly, having an all in one home entertainment/internet system that used voice command, controlling your appliances when your away from home and even doctors operating on patients through specialized equipment from miles away.
From these examples I was under the impression Kenny felt a new internet age was a good thing, he had positive images of the future similar to my own. I soon discovered I was wrong. After questioning him about how he expected his internet usage at home to change, he informed me that he didn’t have the internet at all. I was surprised by this, never letting it cross my mind that someone in this day and age lived without the internet. When I asked him why he said it was because “With everything you gain you there is something to loose”. He went on to tell me a story about how his job on the railway was impacted upon by improving technologies. “You used to walk into work and say high to everyone, but now there is nobody there”… “Systems are controlled via satellite from a central operating box”… “There is no social interaction”. He said he felt as though people now days were losing the art of conversation “instead of talking to one another young people are putting in ear phones and looking at their screens”.
Perhaps it is just a generational thing but I am inclined to disagree with some of his statements. It is my opinion that younger generation isn’t losing the art of conversation but rather changing the way in which they communicate. It’s true I always check my phone but this is because I am in constant contact with my friends, and although we are not physically talking face to face, there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t communicate. The point of this blog however, is not to sit here and debate the dangers of internet v’s the benefits, but rather to make comment on the way exposure shapes perception. Am I predetermined to embrace a technological future because of the internet dependent age I have grown up in? Is my uncle so against an online culture because he can remember a time before the World Wide Web? Are our beliefs on the matter of NBN shaped by our own personalities or are we merely subjects of our times? It’s the age old question of nature v’s nurture.
Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated the Social Lives of Networked Teens, Yale University Press, New Haven, London.
National Broadband Network (NBN) 2007-2013, 2013, Whirlpool, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/nbn#nbn_evidence>.
NBN MYTHS, 2010, What do the Experts Say?, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/what-do-the-experts-say/>.
NBN MYTHS, 2010, Top Ten NBN Myths Debunked, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/>.
Learn About the NBN, 2014, NBNco, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/about-the-nbn.html#.U_mq4WPY9ek>.
Wyres, M 2011, Alan Jones and the NBN Fail!, MichaleWyres.com, weblog post, 25 May, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://michaelwyres.com/2011/05/alan-jones-and-the-nbn-fail/>.