An Internet that benefits
An Internet that benefits
In 2022 Toi Āria was commissioned by InternetNZ / Ipurangi Aotearoa to talk to a wide range of people across the motu about their experiences with the Internet. We partnered with Making Everything Achievable (MEA) to design an enquiry process that would prioritise voices that often go unheard in conversations about the Internet.
The project began with a literature scan, undertaken by research consultancy Antistatic. We then designed a process that would actively engage tāngata whenua, Pacific peoples, people living with disability, LGBTQI+ communities, migrant and refugee communities and younger people. Over the course of 12 months, Toi Āria and MEA hosted multiple conversations involving over 140 people. These included facilitated engagements using Toi Āria’s Comfort Board methodology and open Kai & Kōrero sessions with whānau.
What we found
These conversations with diverse communities highlighted some of the ways people are experiencing and thinking about the Internet in Aotearoa. We identified the following emerging themes in what we heard:
Our Aotearoa context is unique
There is nowhere in the world like Aotearoa New Zealand. The challenges and opportunities of this land are unique — as our responses must be. Māori sovereignty and safety in the online world is an area of particular concern. At the same time, te ao Māori offers rich ways of thinking about the world, and about how humans connect well with each other.
The Internet is here to stay
The Internet has become an essential component of modern life, and is likely to continue to be so long into the future. What it ‘is’ and what it ‘offers’ however, is always evolving. Conversations suggest that levels of trust, understanding and enthusiasm across different communities and age groups vary extensively when it comes to the Internet.
The Internet is changing us
The Internet is fundamentally changing society — enabling and challenging us in innumerable ways. We are becoming more connected, and at the same time less present. There is more we can access, but some of us struggle to access any of it. There are many benefits, but often with many hidden costs. What can we do as individuals, organisations and communities to adapt our mindsets, our behaviours and our social norms accordingly?
The Internet can be dangerous
How might we minimise harm on the Internet, especially for those who are most vulnerable? People’s experience with the Internet can vary wildly. Many people have experienced harm in online environments, or hold strong concerns for those who may be more vulnerable. It may be the case that a truly ‘safe’ Internet is an impossibility.
A better Internet is a more accessible Internet
Access to the Internet has become a necessary part of modern life but barriers remain for many. Infrastructure must prioritise equity of access to services and tools — addressing barriers such as financial, cultural, physical, linguistic and generational exclusion as a priority. How might we ensure all New Zealanders are able to access and fully participate in the online realm with equal ease?
A better Internet is a more diverse Internet
Power is not evenly distributed on the Internet. Some people and communities are poorly represented when it comes to how, when and where decisions are made. If Aotearoa is a multicultural society built on a bicultural foundation, how might our Internet better represent and reflect this?
A better Internet needs better education
Many people feel under-equipped to make the most of the Internet, whilst keeping themselves and others safe while they do so. The attractions of the Internet are many, yet the skills and knowledge required to ensure safety and security online can be hard to access. How might we enable better — and ongoing — education for all users of the Internet?
Our conversations with New Zealanders across the motu show a high level of engagement with the opportunities, tensions and challenges that the Internet offers. InternetNZ/ Ipurangi Aotearoa is working for an Internet that benefits all of Aotearoa. The insights that emerged from these conversations will support them in this mahi to advocate for an Internet that is better for everybody.