NBN, National Broadcasting Network?

We are still talking about TV right?

This is the response I got from my mum, Janet, when I posed to her the question of “what is the NBN?”.

Needless to say, this technological advancement is at the forefront of what my parents need or crave in their lives. Instead the unveiling of the National Broadband Network would just be a delightful improvement on the services that they already have.

“If it improves our internet speeds a little bit then that is great, but it won’t really effect how or what we do in our home”, Janet said.

This sentiment would no doubt worry the government and the private investors of the NBN, who have guaranteed the connect-ability and functionality of the network.

Yet maybe it wouldn’t, instead imploring the idea that an older generation is not the target market of such an investment and rollout. However the fact that we have an ageing population, one that is increasingly becoming more technologically savvy seems unlikely. I think the issues in dealing with this population instead stem from a disconnect in values. Technology isn’t valued in this demographic as much as it is in the younger market.

“I’m old and don’t really care, as long as I have some access to the internet I’m all good”. Janet said, adding “If it is only going to speed things up I don’t think it will fundamentally change our lives”.

Somewhat naive perhaps, but I think it does reflect some of the traditional values that both my parents and the generation that they come from still try to up hold. This push to tradition, inhibits the way that they use and view technology in their own lives. A report by Cisco and Independent Age advised some of the reasons for this as;

  1. Lack of access to the internet
  2. Low awareness of what technology can offer
  3. Inadequate marketing
  4. Inappropriate design
  5. Anxieties

For my parents the problem connected to the rollout of the NBN in particular arise from points 2 and 3, low awareness of what it can do and inadequate marketing.

The lack of understanding of how it could change their lives definitely inhibits how my parents and (in general) their generation make use of the internet. It astounds me that my Dad, Al, has never had a Skype conversation with his brother and sister in New Zealand. I’m equally surprised that they are willing to wait until one of their favourite shows Castle comes back on television or DVD (yes, DVD) to watch it.

This is a far cry to how some other students parents, like Brendon, make use of their NBN connected households. Of particular interest was the idea that they would go without television in a traditional sense and simply stream all of their television viewing.

We no longer have a television signal in our house. Instead, we have a dedicated PC connected to the TV in the living room that is used for streaming or downloading content

I highly doubt my parents would ever take such measures to watch television. I think this fundamentally shows the different attitudinal outlooks towards not only the NBN, but technology in general. For my parents its to assist their lives but for others it is central to how they live.

Marketing the NBN as a key component to your life, has been the underlying message of the building and operating company NBN CO. Yet the continuing issue is the drag on effect that has occurred due to the change in government and change in philosophy of how the NBN should be delivered. This has meant that the idea and message of the NBN has been clouded. The disparity has also caused some disillusionment with the project for my parents.

“It was everywhere and then it was no where. It was one thing and then it was going to do another and I couldn’t keep up”, Janet said “They can come back to me with the NBN when I have town water, sewerage, proper guttering and reception on my mobile phone, until then I don’t really care”.

This disillusionment and subsequent attitudes are typified in the type of people who the Broad-banding Brunswick saw as non-adopters of the NBN in the area. In fact my parents could basically be the representation of their entire conclusion paragraphs. While this is not necessarily a bad thing I think it does speak volumes about the generational gap. In particular about the value and meaning of media and how we want to use it.



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