Anyone who has developed apps knows that release day is stressful. Your App publishing processes stabbed me in the heart on a day that was supposed to be the best day of a small female owned and operated Indigenous businesses' very long struggle to achieve digital equity.
For 3 years we have spent every dollar we had on research and development to bring to the world something special - place and culture based Indigenous Digital Storytelling through AR that doesn’t require the internet to play content. The Prime Minister of Australia thought it was pretty good when he used it, and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs thought it had legs enough to provide a grant to take it to market. That's where you come in.
Today was launch day, and while we were celebrating that Android users started downloading and using our app through Google with great feedback, this remotely based Indigenous company was let down by you in a big way.
That’s right, we are a tiny company made up of myself working with a few people from our tiny community in Kakadu World Heritage Area. We may be a tiny company, but we have a big heart and a bigger vision to change the digital landscape. We’re working toward a world that embraces, encourages and supports Indigenous Peoples’ to participate and design in the digital economy in ways that meet our needs - not just yours. We are doing, not just talking.
You used your standard response to siphon the last ounce of joy to 62% of our market who are Apple users, and who have been waiting patiently for the past 3 years to see this landmark Indigenous Augmented Reality App brought to life on their own devices. Why? Because you want us to ‘incorporate different content’. See below Tweet from one of our followers.
Agreed. I don’t see a whole lot of Indigenous content in your app store, and certainly no other Indigenous AR content. What are you going to do when we start programming apps in our own Indigenous languages?
Here's the thing. Indigenous Peoples' have rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' (permalink so you can check it out for yourself). Specifically we have rights around the manifestation of our cultures including in the ‘future’ and in ‘technology’ (you’ll see that part on Page 6 - Article 11). Apps are included as our Indigenous cultural expressions. Period.
This means that we don’t have to put together ‘different content’. The ‘content’ we have put together is more than 80,000 years of cultural science - knowledge that has been handed down over thousands of generations and guided by Senior Traditional Owners and Elders from different communities. It’s bloody good content too - high resolution digitally animated content built by Senior Traditional Owners and Cultural Law-people of several communities. They are the stars of the show that you’re not allowing your customers to experience. In fact, you can meet them over here.
Your requirement for ‘different content’ is hugely offensive to the 380 Million people who identify as Indigenous - actually, it’s downright censorship. We’d like to know what you’d suggest instead of indigenous content because one thing’s for sure - we aren’t going to add non-Indigenous content to our Indigenous app, built by Indigenous People, that shares our Indigenous cultural knowledge.
It’s ‘just an AR or QR Scanner’ you say? It is an AR scanner - and that is the point. I’m sorry to break it to you, but on this occasion the app isn’t the product, it’s just the tool we’ve chosen to develop to convey at least 80,000 years of science in a way that is meaningful to us. All the app needs to do is scan the marker. Just like a QR code - only magic! The real magic is in the animation of Indigenous knowledges and perspectives about place.
We don’t need instructions within the app because it is intuitive to us. As the kings of minimalism we though Apple would have appreciated our sleek design which removes all the unnecessary and clunky steps in other AR apps we studied. It is literally Download - Open - Scan. No bells and whistles because the user is supposed to focus solely on what Indigenous Peoples' are saying to them.
We have tested our app all around the world with Indigenous Peoples’, including at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and no further instructions were needed for people to use the app successfully. Please don’t be like the tens of other people who have condescendingly asked me how Indigenous Peoples’ are going to use technology. We’ve been doing it since day dot. We may use it in a different way to you, but that’s ok.
So, in response to your review, we will not be changing or in any way amending our content. This is Indigenous content, for an Indigenous Storytelling App, built using Indigenous Knowledge systems, and built by Indigenous Peoples. We’d really like it if you could see your oversight from our point of view, and just release our app, like Google did, without a fuss. Thank you.