Vernon Systems was a proud sponsor of this year’s National Digital Forum (NDF), the first in-person forum since Covid.
Foul weather cancelled flights
Bad weather affected many NDF attendees’ plans as airlines diverted or cancelled flights from and to Auckland and Wellington. This reporter flew to Wellington and nearly landed before dramatically veering towards the skies and returning to Auckland. No flights were available until the second day of the conference, so the hard decision was made to turn around and go home. Apparently, several attendees got a rental car together and drove through the night not to miss this cornerstone event of the GLAM community.
An excellent conference
Fortunately, our CEO, Paul Rowe made it to Wellington despite a delayed flight. He said the conference was excellent.
“Jim Fishwick did a fantastic job as MC. They attracted some very relevant keynote speakers, and the standard of presentations was high.”
Videos of keynote speakers are now on YouTube and include:
This year’s emerging digital trend, artificial intelligence (AI), was referenced in more than half the talks.
In her presentation From Artifacts to Algorithms: Fostering AI Literacy, speaker Kara Kennedy discussed the AI literacy skills that our current and future workforce will need, and what educators and trainers need to build into their courses and mindsets to prepare us for an AI-driven world. She shared an AI Literacy Framework and argued that digital literacy must now expand to include AI literacy to avoid leaving anyone behind.
The framework included these areas:
- Hardware and software
- Information and data literacy
- Communication and collaboration
- Digital content creation
- Career-related competencies
Paul notes that AI is a rapidly emerging technology that’s affecting almost all digital processes, from replacing support technicians with chatbots, to drafting articles, analysing complex text datasets, and flagging harmful content. However, there are many issues to work through. These include:
- Many of the data models are Western-centric and introduce racial and cultural biases as a result.
- Poor data can persist through layers of interpretation. If you feed culturally-biased datasets into an AI learning model, those biases persist.
- Data sovereignty is important, including for indigenous groups. We need to ensure this sovereignty remains with the people and work to prohibit uses such as surveillance, tracking, and discrimination.
- Web content is not always clearly attributed. We need to be very clear what content is AI generated and what content is created by people.
Ultimately, AI is a corporation and a new way to make money. This can be in conflict with the altruistic goals within the cultural sector.
There was a focus on sustainability with an all-vegetarian catering menu and recyclable materials.
Disruption in Wellington
The chaos continued in Wellington after the conference as ever more flights were cancelled, and stranded travellers strived to find accommodation and transport.
Paul managed to hire a car the next day and drive nine hours back to Auckland, enjoying scenic views of the North Island on the way.
Bring on NDF24
It was wonderful to meet clients and be part of the buzz and excitement of NDF. We look forward to next year, weather notwithstanding!
About the National Digital Forum
The National Digital Forum (NDF) is a not-for-profit organisation that works to enhance interaction with technology and culture and drives the development of digital capability within the cultural sector. Established in 2002, NDF’s mission is to help the cultural sector realise its full potential through the use of technology and sustainable practice.