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Is Snobbery Stifling Local Web Content? 4 July 2002 Edition
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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?

Feature: Promoting Your Website
Dont' forget to check out the series of hints on how to promote your website which will be regularly added to throughout the next few weeks.

New this week: The Importance Of Branding

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?

Hell no!

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?

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Arts funding vs net funding... - Tom
  • Are you high?... - Against
  • Government money... - Anne
  • Is Snobbery Stifling... - Dave
  • Have Your Say

    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 well-trafficked.

    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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