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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday August 17, 2018 
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REWIND / FAST FORWARD: THE WEB PAST AND FUTURE

Remote controlled farm machinery that can spot and spray individual weeds or capture images of the right sort of apples hanging on trees are just a few of the items on the ‘internet of things’ that seem to belong to the future, as does ‘programmatic’ display advertising for old fashioned publishers, silently filling available inventory in fractions of a second. If you weren’t at this seminar last week (25/3/2015), you are already – unquestionably – part of the past, says Andrew L. Urban, who was indeed there.

The full day seminar, at Dolton House opposite Sydney’s Hyde Park, was run by the crew from SlatteryIT, its title referring us back 20 years and forward forever, ‘Celebrating 20 Years of the Commercial Internet in Australia’. Of course, urbancinefile.com.au is a venerable part of this past, having launched its Beta site nearly 19 years ago in September 1996, just minutes after the birth of the internet, and its full throttle operating version in February 1997. But this wasn’t about us.

Well over 100 delegates attended, most of them silently multi-tasking with iPads and iPhones, of course … your reporter included.

It was Salah Sukkarieh of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (Sydney Uni) who astounded the delegates with his presentation about what farmers get up to digitally these days. Unmanned, remote controlled machines and drones do the work of slaves in the field, gathering and sorting data about fruit and veg and other stuff. We will never look at a field or orchard the same way again; agriculture is a vast field of digital potential. The end results are better harvests, more, better food … globally vital work.

As for ‘programmmatics’ it was Pippa Leary, CEO of newly launched Australian Premium Advertising Exchange (APEX for short, a JV of Fairfax and Mi9) who introduced us all to the notion of their work in ‘large scale premium exchange to trade brand safe mobile inventory’. Notwithstanding Pippa Leary’s enthusiastic explanation of this digital whizzery, I was one of the delegates impressed by what it seems to do, rather than understand how it does it. In short, the system sells ads to all member publishers where there is inventory available – at the best price and at breakneck speed.

Salah and Pippa were among dozens of speakers, some very young, like Kenneth Tsnag, a self confessed nerd obsessed with the NBN, having built his own, superior rollout data app. Others were veterans, like Simon Hackett, co-developer of the world’s first Internet connected toaster in 1990 and founding Internode. He now sits on that NBN board and drives Tesla cars – which he showcased for us. Very impressive.

While Kenneth’s invention was driven by the despairing necessity of an official NBN website that didn’t do what it was meant to, and Simon, among others, spoke at length of the problems and failures of the NBN … nobody, but nobody, mentioned the elephant in the NBN room, namely the Government monopoly built by Stephen Conroy and Cronies. You really couldn’t design a worse platform for running a vast technology start up than a Government monopoly. They’re not good for running anything – except interference.

Monique Harris from Bauer Media, Kate Harrison Brennan from Global & Smart and Rebekah Horne from Network Ten provided lively insights – the latter as Digital Officer, especially relevant. The seminar also presented a selection of leading men from the internet future, as it were.

The consensus about the future seemed to be that it may be unknowable, but expect the unexpected; somewhere perhaps in a small garage, someone is developing the next killer app, the next breakthrough in wearable computers and the next miniaturised world of knowledge and power.

Published April 2, 2015

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