Currents No 3 July 2001
digest of cross sectoral information management events, issues and ideas in
organisations, libraries, archives and museums, with special emphasis on
arts and the humanities.
we all know, is a powerful social and creative force. It was the collaboration
between FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela that brought apartheid to an end.
Collaboration between Braque and Picasso produced Cubism. Denmark’s high
gross national product is attributed in part to the economic collaboration of
Nordic countries in facilitating communication and mobility.
month, influenced by recent news and announcements, we feature collaborative
ideas and action by government, scholarly communities, business and
digital journey since the arrival of the Internet has been exposed to the
vicissitudes of Government turnover, board and management churn and the
seductive power of new software and hardware.
A Strategy for the Information Economy (1999) and Backing
Australia’s Ability (2001) are indicative of experimentation with
government cultural, research and educational policy in the burgeoning digital age. In
June, Australia Council Chairman Margaret Sears, in her retirement talk to the
National Press Club, reckoned that the culture industry was mysteriously
absent from the innovation agenda and that education, as a core ingredient of
creativity, had been undervalued.
Australian Labor Party’s Knowledge Nation blueprint, released in
July, addresses, at least on a rhetorical level, recent policy shortfalls in
education, research and the arts.
It seeks to encourage effective linkages between
research organisations, promote humanities and other core enabling disciplines
in schools and higher education, deliver an education system that encourages
fundamental research and study in the humanities as well as applied knowledge,
improve the position of the humanities, social sciences and the arts in
Australia, increase funding to the Australian Research Council and other
research bodies, and commercialise ideas.
for the library and other information industry sectors, it also promotes the
need for a national information policy to ensure access and equity in securing
knowledge, to set out the rules by which information will be available for
public good and commercial exploitation, and to provide the basis of public
policy that will be applicable to new technological developments.
Knowledge Nation Policy received a mauling by some in the press. Terry McCrann
in The Australian (7-8 July 2001).dismissed it as motherhood stuff.
Although we need to be knowledge rich as a nation, there are, according
to McCrann, three problems with the ALP vision. First, it is essentially
centralised in government and the bureaucracy. Second, it will cost too much
and/or result in higher taxes. And third, whatever the vision, ‘it will be
implemented by bureaucracies and negotiated between interest groups’. Paul
Kelly, in the same edition of The Australian, focusing on the central
telecommunication ingredient of the plan, points to ‘the big gap between
Labor’s vision and Telstra’s financial imperative’. The editorial in The
Australian of 14-15 July predicted that the need for tax incentives, the
political astuteness of the Coalition Government and the hip-pocket nerve
would militate against the success of Labor's proposals. And comments of a more inane variety, promoted by Barry Jones' Spaghetti
and Meatballs mind map, influenced the cartoonists for a number of days.
contrast, the Sydney Morning Herald, in its editorial of
4 July, called it a ‘more holistic document than Backing Australia’s
Ability. It 'succeeds in its main task of being a blueprint for possibilities'
and ‘of providing Australians with a stronger idea of Labor’s plans to
build knowledge and innovation into an economic prime mover’.
of the political hue of the Federal Government in 2002, it is likely that the
pendulum will swing to a rounder view of culture, education, research,
information management and technology policy over the next few years.
interested in the subject may also turn to The Comparative Performance of
Australia as a Knowledge Nation, a report to the Chifley Research Centre
by Mark Considine, Simon Marginson and Peter Sheehan, with the Assistance of
Margarita Kumnick (http://www.education,monash.edu.au.centres/mcrie),
A Primer on the Knowledge Economy, prepared by John Houghton and Peter
Sheehan (Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University), John Houghton’s Information Industries Update 2001
(Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University; (summary and
order form at http://www.cfses.com/info2001).
Librarians, in particular, should look at John Houghton's Economics of
Scholarly Communication: a discussion paper, prepared for the Coalition
for Innovation in Scholarly Communication (http:/members.ozemail.com.au/~johnh/research)
Shalini Venturelli throws down the gauntlet in her essay From the
Information Economy to the Creative Economy: Moving Culture to the Center of
International Public Policy (http://www.culturalpolicy.org/pubs/venturelli.pdf).
the economics of ideas and expression are recognized to play a central and
strategic role in everything we do, from politics to banking, from education
to consumption, from the organization of the state and the socio-legal
system to organization of culture and self- identity, it will become
impossible to defend the current design of an information age grounded in
industrial economics and traditional concepts of culture or knowledge.
Whether answering the challenge and closing the gap takes a few years or a
century, the historical pressures to revise our approach to these issues is
a certainty. Now or in the future, we will one day find ourselves on the
threshold of an international political settlement to resolve these
fundamental principles of a Creative Economy and Information Society. Which
nation will transform its domestic policy first and lead the international
debate, and which will be surpassed in innovative capacities, forced to
spend decades catching up through costly misjudgments?
over the threads of these reports, no doubt, will be two round tables
organised by the National Scholarly Communications Forum in August.
Community Structures in Australia
the first, Grounds of Inquiry: Scholarly Communication Structures in
Australia, John Houghton will present his theoretical model of the
information industries, building upon his paper Economics of Scholarly
Communication, prepared for the Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication
and available at (http://members.ozemail.com.au/~johnh/research).
to the seminar blurb, his presentation will offer new opportunities for, and
challenges to, knowledge providers. The framework for the afternoon sessions
will be the work undertaken by the AVCC's SCIP committees and the discussion will
focus on the match between the model presented in the morning and initiatives
currently planned or under way.
and Chairs: Dr Evan Head (Policy Research Branch, DETYA,) Tom Cochranen
(Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Information & Academic Services, Queensland
University of Technology), Vic Elliott (University Librarian, University of
Tasmania), Helen Hayes (Vice Principal Information, University of Melbourne;
President, Council of Australian University Librarians), Professor John
Houghton (Director of the Information Technologies and the Information Economy
Program, Victoria University, Melbourne), Lois Jennings (Manager, Information
Services Division and University Librarian, University of Canberra), Professor
Angus Martin (Chair, National Scholarly Community Forum and McCaughey
Professor of French, University of Sydney), Ann Okerson (Associate University
Librarian for Collections and Technical Services, Yale. University), Dagmar
Schmidmaier (State Librarian and Chief Executive, State Library of NSW) and
Colin Steele (Director, Scholarly Information Services and University
will be able to contribute their own experience and ideas on the best ways to
meet present and future challenges to the research and information sectors.
Conference Room, National Library of Australia, Canberra. Date: 8 August 2001.
To facilitate productive discussion, the Round Table will be limited to 50
participants. Details: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/aah/nscf/nscf_RT12
A Knowledge Culture?
second round table, on the broader them, Australia: A Knowledge Culture?, to be held
on 9 August 2001 in Old Canberra House, near the National Museum of
Australia in Canberra, will assess the role of knowledge in enabling
Australia to face economic and social changes today and in the future. Topics
include histories of the knowledge culture, valuing knowledge in Australian
communities, investing in knowledge, Australian policy and the creation of a
knowledge culture. Participants include: Mairead Browne, Malcolm Gillies,
Ashley Goldsworthy, Brian Johns,
Simon Marginson, Oliver Mayo, Angus Martin, James J. O'Donnell and Sue
Rowley. For details: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/aah/nscf/nscf_RT13.htm
and Humanities Hub
the other side of the globe, the Resource Discovery Network in the UK, the
free Internet service dedicated to providing effective access to high quality
Internet resources for the learning, teaching and research community (http://www.rdn.ac.uk)
has announced the creation of three new hubs, including one on the Arts and
Creative Industries. The Arts and Creative Industries Hub is being led by
Manchester Metropolitan University on behalf of the Consortium of Academic
Libraries in Manchester (CALIM). The other partners are The London Institute,
South Cheshire College of Further Education and Manchester Computing. Work has
begun on appointment of staff and liaison with projects, partners and user
communities. The new hubs are expected to be launched sometime in 2002.
[Source: Arts and Humanities Data Service]
& Art Museum Network Partnership
Lyons in The Third Sector: the Contribution of Non-Profit and Cooperative
Enterprises in Australia (Allen & Unwin, 2001) highlights the
potential decline of professional associations unless they are able to meet
the challenges of organisation and leadership, use business techniques,
increase capacity, become more accountable to a wider public, develop closer
links with business, act in a concerted fashion, encourage growth of the
sector and get the right mix between local and global ideas and action.
month, the Art Museum Network (AMN) and Reuters announced a project to
establish an online fine arts information report in conjunction with the
Whitney Museum of American Art, which hosts the AMN website. The joint project
will provide access for journalists, other Reuters subscribers and the online
public to the latest in art news to
complement financial, general and specialty news services.
Report will provide information on exhibitions and special events at fine arts
museums around the world and will be marketed to any online publisher
interested in providing readers with information about fine arts exhibits and
agreement will unfold in two phases. In phase one, each museum belonging to
AMN will provide press releases to Reuters, which will then redistribute the
releases to online clients. For further information on each press release, the
user will be able to go directly to http://www.artmuseumnetwork.org.
In Phase Two, the Art Museum Network will create a database of all press
releases for use by the online public. The database will be searchable by
topic, institution, city, date, and other categories.
Art Museum Network is the official website of a consortium of over 200 of the
world's leading art
museums represented by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) -
170 North American members and 40 or so of the largest museums in Europe and
Asia. Each museum furnishes up-to-date exhibition information on a daily
basis, automatically made available on the Internet
supplies global financial markets and news media with a wide range of
information products, including real-time financial data, collective
investment data, news, graphics, news video and news pictures. In addition to
supplying the financial markets, about 73 million unique visitors per month
have access to Reuters content on some 1,400 Internet websites. Reuters has
journalists, photographers and camera operators in 190 bureaus, serving
151 countries. In 2000 the Group had revenues of £3.59 billion ($5.4 billion)
and on December 31, 2000, the Group employed 18,082 staff in 204 cities in 100
countries [Source: NINCH-Announce].
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