How Ireland can develop a thriving digital media sector

29 Jul 2010

With our creative talents being recognised internationally, it’s time for Ireland to get animated about digital media and put in place policies and structures to support this important industry.

A uniting vision

Arguably Ireland’s biggest digital export to date has been U2. Of course this pales in comparison to the digital exports of the multinationals based here, such as Microsoft, Google, Big Fish Games, Activision and Oracle. What is needed is a uniting vision that businesses and creators all over Ireland can subscribe to.

The right infrastructure

Multinationals like Microsoft used to physically package and box software and ship it all over the world. Now those exports are transported digitally to the four corners of the earth. Start-ups and SMEs all over the country will need this capability to be relevant in the digital age.

Accelerating start-ups

If Israel, a country surrounded by enemies and with no natural resources, can field greater and greater amounts of start-ups in technology, then so can Ireland. We need to find the problem, fix it and provide for new companies.

We’ve got to be clever

From ogham stones to the Book of Kells, Ireland has always been in the content business. Digital media plays to our strengths as storytellers, musicians, artists and communicators. Encouraging our young to do their schoolwork and college projects using the latest digital technologies – most of them are free – must happen.

Digital media: ‘This is something we could be very good at’

I often wonder did it not occur to anyone in this country that when young Dubliner Richie Baneham picked up an Academy Award this year for his work on James Cameron’s digital spectacular Avatar, that if a graduate of Ballymun CFE can thrill the world with his creation then we could field thousands more like him?

There are thousands more like him, we’re just not equipping them with the tools, infrastructure or self-belief. This is at a time when the avenues for invention online have never been greater. We need to learn from our successes like Havok, Demonware and JOLT. When Brown Bag films, one of five Irish firms along with Baneham to be nominated for an Oscar, wins a major deal with Disney, does that not tell you something?

Read more of ‘How Ireland can develop a thriving digital media sector’ at Digital 21. – Digital 21 is a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating an action programme to secure the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years