Genevieve Bell addresses delegates in Keynote

Genevieve BellWhat does the technological future look like? Don’t ask a tech savvy teenager, ask women in their 40s, 50s and 60s because they’re the ones doing most of the surfing, texting, skyping, and social networking. That’s according to the dynamic social scientist and anthropologist, Dr Genevieve Bell, who works for Intel and in 2010 was included in a list of the 100 most creative people in business. She pulled a string of surprising facts out of the hat, forcing her CBA audience to reassess what they thought they knew.  She was fast, articulate and inspiring, using some of her own quirky photographs to reinforce her points. The first photo was of a red headed, curly haired, freckly child with a broad smile, growing up in an Aboriginal community. It could only have been Genevieve, and she showed it partly to explain where her curiosity about people comes from.  And by the way, she can extract water from frogs, she said ….

Many of the broadcasting professionals she was addressing had their iPads, laptops and Smartphones in front of them and were making full use of the free Wi-Fi, but she reminded them that “the internet is not ubiquitous” and “connectivity is complicated”.  In first-world Brisbane, the host city of the CBA conference, getting online content is cheap and easy, but in India, for example, where there are 850 million mobile phones (but not Smartphones) you need to go to the “media man”. For a nominal fee, he’ll sell a “weekend package” which includes lots entertainment, including   Bollywood content. It might not stick to copyright rules, but it shows how one way or another, content will always be circulated.

Sometimes it seems that everyone, wherever you go, is plugged in, but Genevieve Bell described how being disconnected is now extremely valuable and aspirational. We’re familiar with mobile-free train carriages, but what about “black hole resorts” recently advertised in a Qantas travel magazine? Being ‘uncontactable’ is a selling point, and as we buy more gadgets we’re starting to question where we should use them (iPads in bed?). There’s one piece of technology though that Dr. Bell’s research seems to suggest is exempt from all this. It’s the old fashioned radio: accepted everywhere, all the time.

Thanks to Pak Wayne Yiu for the photographs including the one above of Genevieve Bell.

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QLD Governor Penelope Wensley opens the CBA Conference

QLD Governor Penelope WensleyThe role of the public broadcaster when a disaster or emergency strikes has been described as “absolutely critical”. These were the words of the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, when she opened the 29th Commonwealth Broadcasting Association General Conference in Brisbane.In her speech, in front of an audience of broadcasting professionals who had travelled thousands of miles from all over the world, she expressed her commitment and support of The Commonwealth as a whole.  “I’ve always thought it was an undervalued organisation” she said, “but I know, and I’ve seen at first hand, the difference it can make, working in a quiet, low-key but very professional way, drawing on its network of connections.”

This year’s conference, with delegates from Botswana, Canada, India, Pakistan, Thailand and Tonga, to name just a few countries represented, is focusing on crisis, disaster and emergency, and the host city knows what that’s like only too well. “Nobody imagined that the chosen venue for the conference, the city of Brisbane, would become a case study of just how important a public broadcaster is in times of disaster and emergency. That’s when people need a trusted source of reliable and accurate information,” said Penelope Wensley. Thankfully it hasn’t taken too long for Brisbane to recover from the floods of 2011. “I’m delighted that a year after that “summer of disasters”, or as it‘s now termed “our summer of sorrows”, you’re able to see Brisbane restored,” she said.

One of the key discussions throughout the next few days will focus on how public service broadcasters can improve on what they offer at times of crisis. According to Penelope Wensley, “The CBA conference is a perfect expression of that spirit and resolve to find better ways of doing things: in this case, in the challenging domain of managing and responding to emergencies, crisis and disasters. Not only you, the participants, but governments and communities all around the world have an interest and stake in the outcomes of this Conference.”

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CBA Brisbane 2012… Almost there!

ABC’s new Brisbane centre

As the Secretariat team walked along the river front this evening, with the stunning Brisbane skyline lit up in front of us, it was difficult to believe that after more than a year of planning the CBA General Conference 2012 is about to open! We are really looking forward to welcoming delegates as they start to arrive. The DG of GBC Ghana, Mr Berifi Apenteng was the first to fly in…he’s also probably had farthest to travel.

Just under a year ago I visited Brisbane on my first recce. Then it was a city in shock following the devastating floods of early spring 2011 but even so you could see the shoots of recovery. Now the city is quite literally blooming again with a wonderful riverside area full of rich and colourful gardens and a newly restored public beach. The Convention Centre will provide a stunning contemporary venue for the conference sessions and delegates will have a chance to tour what is almost certainly the newest purpose built broadcasting centre in the world. ABC’s new Brisbane centre opened just yesterday evening.

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Delegate dinner at the Metricon Stadium

Supported by SBS, the CBA are hosting a unique dinner on the evening of Monday 23rd April.
The dinner will take place at the Metricon Stadium, a premier sporting location on Queensland’s popular Gold Coast. The Metricon Stadium the official venue for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Delegates will be travel by private train from South Brisbane station directly to the Gold Coast. Once at the stadium, they will be treated to a specially prepared meal culminating in an after dinner speech from Australian Masterchef personality, Peter Kuruvita. Mr Kuruvita is a highly regarded and experienced member of the Australian food scene and has been the Executive Chef of Sydney’s award-winning Flying Fish Restaurant for the past 8 years.

Delegates attending the Pop-Up dinner should meet outside South Brisbane train station (which is right next to the BCEC conference venue on Grey Street) at 6.30pm sharp. The dress code for the evening is smart casual.

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Conference Map and Speakers Bio Available

With it now being less than a week until the start of the Brisbane 2012 Conference the CBA team has landed and is completing the final preparations. There will be further updates in the build up to this Sunday and more throughout the conference, we’ll also shortly be updating this website’s frontpage look.

Available for download is a Brisbane map with the key conference locations marked out. Locations and further information about the events and programme can be found on the programme page.

We have also added to the website biographies of the conference speakers, which are available to read here.

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