Abstract

The vast distances Australians must negotiate to connect their small, highly urbanized population both nationally and internationally have long created the incentive for invention, innovation and the early adoption of communication technologies. Important also in any reflection in relation to Australia’s socio-technological evolution is this country’s location as a modern, developed, predominately western nation perched in the southeast of the Asian landmass. The Australian continent’s seven million square kilometers are geographically, and increasingly economically, politically and culturally, part of Asia. Forty percent of Australians were born overseas and almost one third of overseas-born Australians were born in Asia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). At the end of 2012, Australia’s population was approaching 23 million with about half that number—12.2 million—Internet subscribers. Broadband subscribers accounted for 98% of subscriptions; the split between private and public (business or government) use was 76% and 24% respectively. After exploring some of the central characteristics and tensions of the social media landscape in Australia, the authors illustrate issues and trends in social media usage in Australia and conclude with a discussion of salient policy issues, including challenges around the evolution of digital infrastructure, media law and copyright.