Liam Ridgeway: Introduction to the Indigenous Digital Economy

In BlogX by Luke Pearson

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Author: Liam Ridgeway

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Liam is a descendant of the Gumbaynggirr people of the North Coast of NSW, the Wakka Wakka people of Southern QLD.
Liam has a passion to increase Indigenous participation in the global digital economy and support the growth and sustainability of an Indigenous IT community to provide greater positive impact for the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. 

In the 21st century we are living in exponential times with the influence, integration and immersion of technology advancements in our lives.

But why is it that in particular countries, communities, people and cultures are more “exponential” than others?

Why can’t we all benefit from advancements of technology at the same rate?

As Indigenous Australians we have a great opportunity to participate in the Digital Economy and to create our own Indigenous Digital Economy.

You might be asking, what is this concept ‘Indigenous Digital Economy’. An Indigenous Digital Economy is the way we as a community look to embrace and use technology to enhance productivity for all of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and which contributes to a stronger and increasingly sustainable Indigenous Economy.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the oldest living culture on this planet, we have survived and thrived for many thousands of years with our cultural ways and living in harmony with the land.

Over the last 230 years our land, our culture and our way of life has been significantly impacted by colonisation. This colonisation still happens and still grows to this day and this will continue to occur exponentially if we don’t embrace the life, environment and world around us.

By no means are we saying that you forego your identity and your culture, because that it is the last thing we want to do or see happen, what we are saying is that the world that we live in surrounds us and influences us dramatically, as a result we’re slowly being separated from many aspects of our culture. Why? Because of all the “noise” in the world and mass consumerism, which largely comes from technology advancements and the exponentiality of it.

In a technological age we are being exposed to so much information and knowledge, especially our young kids, how much of this information and knowledge is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander based?

It is minuscule, and yet we have 60,000 years of information, stories, culture and knowledge, but it is not captured in a place for us to easily access and share with our people, and possibly share some with the outside world. We are by no means disrespecting our traditional ways of sharing our culture because our traditional ways have shaped us to who we are today, the oldest living people on this earth. What we are saying is that we want our culture to be relevant, prominent and thriving within our community, but also across the world. Our challenge is that in a world of technology and mass consumerism our culture is being drowned out because of the proliferation of information, entertainment, things and stuff that are just dominating our ways of life and our minds. This is where embracing technology plays a role.

How do we not just coexist with technology, but how do we create it, influence it, design it and own it.

We need to ensure that our stories, history and culture don’t gradually get drowned out and embrace technology, embrace it exponentiality and ensure that we are making just as much noise in the world with our stories and way of life so that our kids and their kids can have access to all the information and the knowledge that can and should be past down responsibly from one generation to the next.

With the Indigenous Digital Economy we want to engage and work with communities to develop and understand the importance of how technology does and will play a role in making us more productive within our communities and how we can capture as much of our culture and stories that we feel relevant.

We don’t want technology to substitute our traditional ways of passing knowledge, we want technology to complement this practice, to support it and enhance it. We are custodians of our culture now and we must ensure that we are putting our best foot forward to ensure that we are continuing to pass on our culture and we believe that the use of technology will help us put our best foot forward.

As NGNY, we are very open to perspectives, opinions and a place to have a healthy and constructive conversation, our views on Indigenous Digital Economy are ours and we understand and respect that others will have their perspectives which may differ or be similar. We want to learn from our community and share ideas, successes and challenges. Remember, at the end of the day our goal is to contribute to the strength and advancement of our communities connection to culture and a stronger connection to our land in a modern and exponential world.

This article has been sponsored by RMIT University in lead up to the Ngamie Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Meet Ups: Thursday 5.30pm June 21, July 26, Aug 23 at the RMIT Garden Building Bowen Street, Melbourne.

Contact jirra@kalinya.com.au for more info.  

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