Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Successive governments have always had a commitment to fostering the arts,
literature and other aspects of our unique culture by way of funding
mechanisms like NZ On Air
and other vehicles.
So, if you produce radio or TV programmes; or if you produce books, perform
dance, theatre, paint, sculpt or are engaged in almost any other aspect of
the creative or performing arts in New Zealand -- the government will offer
to line your pockets to a greater or lesser extent.
So what's wrong with the Net?
Why are all those people out there who have tried (and failed) to
create and maintain sites with content that does an incredibly good job
of reflecting the culture of the country through this new medium being ignored?
There are a long list of good little websites that have come and gone over the
years, each of which, in its own way, has helped to expand and document
New Zealand's own unique online culture.
Can they get government funding?
How fair is that?
Given that, if you're good enough, it's possible to actually earn a living
painting, sculpting, singing, songwriting, creating broadcast content, etc.
-- yet making even the smallest revenues from a small Net venture is nigh on
impossible -- why should the taxpayer be funding the former and not the latter?
It couldn't be a case of reverse snobbery on the part of government could it?
After all, we know that very few of those in parliament, and even fewer
of those who control the purse-strings, actually understand how to use the Net
let alone realise its significance as a method of documenting and helping shape
our ever-changing culture.
Or could it simply be that, unlike TV, radio, movies, book-publishing and other
forms of arts and culture, there are no boozy awards ceremonies and no
photo-opportunities associated with sponsoring local Net content?
The catalyst for today's column is the imminent demise of a site that should
have done a lot better than it obviously has.
I refer to NewsBox.co.nz.
Given how outspoken many Kiwis are about the events that go on around them (just
listen to talkback radio to see what I mean), any site that offers a place
dedicated to the discussion of such things ought to be encouraged and
Unfortunately NewsBox seems to have suffered a fate common to so many small
"one-man-band" websites -- nobody knows about it so nobody visits it.
Should a site like this get taxpayer funding? Or should it be left to drown
amidst the sea of other good ideas that never got to critical mass?
Imagine how such a site could benefit from just a couple of thousand dollars
worth of promotional funding so as to raise its profile somewhat.
Personally I find it a shame that "the powers that be" appear to have a
mindset which says that the Net is only technology and has no cultural
or artistic content. Surely the latest National Library initiative to
catalogue local content is proof that this is patently wrong.
If the government won't help foster local sites that have the potential
to become a part of the local Net culture, maybe the bigger ISPs could.
Or might it be that the nation's DSL supplier would rather people browsed
off-shore sites so that it can charge an over-cap per MB fee on top
of the monthly subscription?
What do you think?
That Kiwi Tivo-like Box
Thanks for the bucketloads of feedback you've been sending on this idea --
clearly there are still a lot of people interested in having their
own PC-based digital media centre.
Thanks also to those who have pointed me in various directions for things
such as digital satellite TV cards, etc. I'll be investigating and reporting
as soon as I can.
Stay tuned for updates.
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