Last year I met with a friend from up North who works a bit for Telecom (a telecommunications company here in NZ). Over dinner we got to talking about the Internet in New Zealand and I spouted some ideas on how I thought Telecom should do things differently.

Nothing much seems to have come of that, no mysterious calls from Telecom offering me a job or anything, so I thought I may as well paste it here.

AT the moment, NZ cultural agencies like the education sector, libraries and archives are allowing NZ artifacts to pour off our shores and into the coffers of popular net services like Facebook and Youtube. Sure, they try to set up their own websites that replicate the services of those pop media in/outlets and they try to make their services more relevant and accessible (and some of them are doing a pretty good job, but they are all missing something key, that the people who use those services (most of us) want the international connection they provide, and using local services is a kind of power down.

Breaking this problem down:
1. The cultural agencies want to make their services more relevant and accessible to the NZ public (including NZrs living over seas).
2. They have a problem in that most NZrs are drawn to use popular media like Facebook and Youtube, and that large amounts of NZ contemporary culture is not being captured by NZ archives etc, neither stored nor served in NZ, adding to international bandwidth costs.

Now, there is a complimentary problem in NZ.. the issue of bandwidth. We spend enormous amounts of money to send and receive data from international servers. Some ISPs have tried caching that data locally, but I haven’t heard of the savings in that being passed down to the end user.

This is where the cultural agencies can step in and offer something great to people in NZ.

The cultural agencies (that’s our schools, libraries, archives, art galleries, museums, local government) need to position themselves between the popular media and the people who use it. How? Well, lets start by taking a look at TubeMogal. One of a number of web services that will take your video and distribute it across a number of popular media in/outlets in one single upload. This is great for people who are really keen on getting their media out to as many people as possible, as well as those looking for some kind of cloud computing storage and backup. Imagine such a tool used by our cultural agencies, where they offer to take your media and distribute it across the popular in/outlets, but AS WELL they list themselves and their own servers as an option for storing and serving your file. Imagine if the NZ National Archives was on my TubeMogal list? Or imagine if the NZ Archives site provided me with a service like TubeMogal but better. Imagine if NZ Archives partnered with services like Achive.org, and generously stored and served everyones media to everyone, but with a special interest in NZ media. And imagine if they could do all that in partnership with ISPs so that when a user does upload a music video to Youtube as well as the NZ Archive and Archive.org and everywhere else, the next time a NZ user requests that same media to be served, instead of the data coming from off shore it was served from a NZ server, complete with local advertising? saving bandwidth and money, and storing NZ heritage. Imagine if those savings were passed down to the end user, helping to make Internet in NZ affordable. Not only would we start seeing more affordable Internet in this country, but more people would engage with, use and identify with NZ cultural agencies, and help them capture the NZ cultural heritage it is currently missing.. on its way out the door to Youtube.

Its important to note that this service does not replace or attempt to replicate Youtube, just that it is attempting to position itself between the user and Youtube so as to benefit from the exchange and offer improved service for the NZ user.

I realise the caching and serving of media locally is problematic, but I included it here for the full picture.

A smarter and more targeted system of ad placement could help pay for this set up. Where as GoogleAds are sometimes nonspecific and uninteresting, this localisaton could afford more targeted and user generated advertising to compliment the effort, and include more generous revenue sharing.. perhaps the best way to do this is to partner up with Google Ads and help them be better.

Last year I was sharing this idea in more detail to my friend the Telecom market researcher. He seemed turned on to the idea but had his doubts about the telco being anywhere near the headspace of even entertaining the idea and look at bringing all this together. I started a campaign page on the KAREN wiki that relates to the thinking behind this. And later again, at the HeyWire8 OER meeting I tried to bring the right people together to talk about the idea, but never had the opportunity to even bring it up.  It is only a recent discussion with Simon on my blog that has prompted me to post the general bones of the idea here.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a call from someone and I’ll get a few free dinners just to talk this idea through to whatever its end. I think it could work, but then, I know more detail🙂