We hear a lot of cant’s in our lives. Your people can’t do that. We can’t do that . You can’t do that.. It seems as though the bigger our dreams get for the future, the louder the can’ts can get until out of our own lips slips the words I can’t…. At 29 years of age, learning who I was, which Country I belonged to I didn’t think I could either.
Ten years later I’m an Aboriginal geek – an indigenous digital futures technologist who works with red, yellow, black and white geeks to build our digital cultural futures.
I’ve heard my fair share of you cant’s over the past 6 years while building our storytelling app, Indigital Storytelling. I wanted the right people to tell the right story, from the right place at the right time at our cultural places and in libraries, galleries and museums in a way that makes economic benefits of our Peoples. I developed a way technology can help us achieve this on Country and off that has cultural integrity, but that also shares profits with our Peoples.
When I was starting to build my app people said that’s great Mik, but Aboriginal People Can’t use technology; women can’t develop technology, and successful technology company’s certainly can’t be developed from remote Aboriginal communities led by women. My personal favourite is ‘can I speak to the guy in charge’. But I didn’t believe them because I have been lucky.
While others said I can’t and when I started to believe it for myself, my mother and father, and my grandmother and grandfather and my very patient partner Pete taught me not to hear that ‘t’ on the end of that word can’t. Because if you can’t hear the t on can’t, suddenly you have can.
I can, do and should do my work in technology futures and you should join me, because in a way our cultural futures depend on it. You see, we all know about the gap in education and health but you might not think about the chasm we are about to be in - the digital skills chasm. This is why technology futures for our tiddas is critical:
Our women are in sectors of the economy which will be disproportionally impacted by technology enabled automation – basically robots. 57% of jobs which are projected to be displaced between now and 2026 (only 9 years) will belong to women. If you work in customer service, education or administration your work futures will be at risk.
The way you think you make money is about to change because cash is about to become obsolete. Just like movie-rental stores, physical maps and telephone landlines the plastic dollar is next to be phased out. Businesses and cultural institutions already know this. I was just at a museum that had pay wave on top of that donation box that would usually be filled with cash. Digital donations.
Not only will we deal in digital currencies through our phones, but the types of currencies we value are changing. Suddenly, digitalised cultural knowledge is extremely valuable. Think of a basic building blocks of life and our cultural knowledge for medicines, nutraceuticals, food and water. These are already being made in digital formats with the data being sold for commercialisation. We need to make sure we have a place at the negotiation tables to economically benefit from these transactions.
If you are thinking you can’t deal with that, I’m hear to tell you that you CAN, and you will also benefit if you start encouraging our tiddas to build their digital skills. Right now Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are amongst the most digitally disadvantaged peoples in Australia – but we are working hard to change that so we don’t just consume other peoples technologies, but we build them ourselves in ways that honour and uphold our cultures. Because of her, we can. And because of our decedents, we will.