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Peer to Peer

Tech Tales-Peer To Peer_Study 2


Andrew Garton





Digital Rights Issue

Digital Literacy, Data Sovereignty


Karen Banks is a young keyboard player from Melbourne and in an Afro-reggae band. And yet, she knows so little about Africa and its people. Determined to find out more, Kare leaves Australia in the early 90s to follow the music – but finds that there is more to do. There, she establishes GnFido, an international computer gateway. Back home in Australia a Chinese-Malaysian student from Sydney discovers Pactok, a similar gateway system that gives a voice to the marginalised communities in East Timor and Sarawak. Both GnFido and Pactok are based on a decentralised data flow model consisting of nodes and hubs that serve independent journalists, human rights workers, rainforest timber campaigners, and many other social change advocates across Southeast Asia. To gain access to international email gateways, Pactok is routed through Australia’s first independent ISP, Pegasus Networks, and GnFido through the UK-based GreenNet.

Today, digital rights campaigner Lizzie O’Shea is calling for the need to adapt existing digital infrastructure to decentralise data flows and take back power from companies and governments. How will Lizzie respond when she finds out that such infrastructure had been placed prior to the internet that she knows? Can Karen and Pang’s experiences inform us how we can mitigate the unintended consequences of the internet and the use of 3.8 billion smartphones today?

About the Director

Andrew is an independent filmmaker, musician, and educator with a background in community access media. His work spans the genres of nonfiction filmmaking, installation and performance art, sound design for screen, stage, and radio documentary drama.

From the late 1980s to early 1990s, Garton helped to establish the first independent ISP in Australia, Pegasus Networks, as well as many Southeast Asia pre-Web internet services. Andrew also worked in collaboration with PacTok, Interdoc-Asia Pacific, and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and served as an APC Council and Executive Board member during this period.

In the 2000s, Andrew worked in management and creative production positions with Toy Satellite, Open Channel, EngageMedia, the ABC, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Among his projects were the production of Australian and international installations, and sound works and video focusing on the increasing dislocation of indigenous forest communities, and the threats to community broadcast media.

Andrew’s most recent films of note include Higher Ground – the Bidayuh of Upper Bengoh (2014), Ocean in a Drop – Broadband Impacts on Rural India (2017), Stupendous – Dancing through Parkinson’s (2018), The Archivists (2018), This Choir Sings Carols (2019), and Forged from Fire – the making of the Blacksmiths’ Tree (2019).

Andrew has a Master of Arts in Interactive Media and is an Adjunct Industry Fellow and Lecturer in Media and Communication, Swinburne University of Technology. He is a member of the post-punk fusion trio Rat Kangaroo, with whom his lifelong passion for original music making continues.

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