The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

They have the internet on computers now II?

The Interweb Machine from The Technium

The Interweb Machine from The Technium

A reminder of the willful neglect of the ICT industry throughout the Howardian era. Whatever understanding they had of the sector they sold out to the interests of Packer, Murdoch and the like. A truly neglected area of government policy. To date, the Rudd Government has shown little initiative to make amends. Indeed, Stephen Conroy’s hamfisted attempt to throttle data communications through a Giant Kiddie Porn Filter is technological lunacy. Sad thing is, he probably knows that it is and is acting out Rudd’s debt to the religious right vote. I think we can safely put that one to bed. They’re not so politically influential these days, what with the end of neo-liberalism and the GFC?

God, Australia can be stupid

Australia seems determined to maintain its minnow status in the global IT environment.

How many Australian companies do you think are exhibiting at this year’s CeBIT computer fair in Hanover, Germany? It’s the biggest computer event going, where companies from around the world display their wares and make the contacts they need in a globalised economy.

You would think we’d have a decent contingent, wouldn’t you? There are usually a dozen or so Aussies there, though last year numbers were down to five (compared with 14 exhibitors from that hotbed of IT, New Zealand).

So, how many Aussie IT companies will be at the world’s biggest computer show this year? None. Not a one. Zero. The show will open its gates to its usual half-million visitors and five thousand-plus exhibitors, but Australia will be unrepresented.

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Filed under: Politics

6 Responses

  1. Dave Bath says:

    Yeah Slim, but not only do we produce very little software of interest, have a cargo cult mentality (especially for products we have to pay for, rather than the ones we get for free and can tweak), but pretty much any IT-savvy person will tell you that it is extremely difficult to find an organization that can actually USE technology efficiently.

    It’s worth considering that many nations we do not consider part of the “developed” world (including the Philippines and a host of South American countries) have their own customized-for-the-average-income operating system and application bundles, given to everyone at no charge. Meanwhile, we virtually demand that every student has a computer, but make them pay for essential software that you cannot pull apart and learn from. With no learn-by-disassembling, how can we get a decent population of inventors for the future?

  2. slim says:

    Good points, David.

    I belive the French public school system ditched Microsoft in favour of open source solutions some years back. The NSW Education system has dropped MS Exchange in favour of a corporate Gmail solution for email and calendaring.

    In Victoria DEECD is going ahead with a $60M Ultranet – an all singing and dancing intranet portal for the State education system. The Ultranet fell-over after the first tender process failed to deliver a suitable solution. A selective second tender is happening now, with a scaled-down feature set to suit the likely successful consortium of Microsoft, Oracle and Blackboard.

    Meanwhile many schools are using a great Australian invention called Moodle – an open source content and learning management system. It has been argued, unsuccessfully, that as Moodle already does about 80% of what the Ultranet will do, $6M of custom development would make up the remaining feature set and make a valuable contribution to education institutions all over the world.


  3. Dave Bath says:

    Slim: You said: “scaled-down feature set to suit the likely successful consortium of Microsoft, Oracle and Blackboard”

    Are you hinting that the requirements specification may have been tailored to vendors rather than allow for open-source sponsored additions? If so, could you expand?

    BTW: I think the federal government is certainly more open to open source, but in Victoria, state of bending over to corporations…

  4. slim says:

    That’s my take on it, at least. The original tender fell over because none of the tenders could offer the range of functionality needed within the constraints of the brief. Moodle wasn’t asked to tender, and didn’t. I expect they knew they couldn’t meet the criteria as laid down by DEECD and reflecting the whole of government’s heavy investment in Microsoft and Oracle. Head honchos from MS carried out specific engineering to enable MS Exchange and Outlook to create a communication platform for all Vic Gov departments – the largest Exchange network ever created at that time.

    DEECD are rolling out a massive pilot program with 1-one-1 computers and kids in Years 5 & 6 using small netbooks. This will be extended to Year 7 & 8 down the track. A radical commitment to digital technology in education correctly recognising that children growing up today are digital natives. It needs to be done to improve student engagement with their own learning. How well that happens will be interesting to watch.

    I’m not sure what the strategy with creating suitable content is, but a centralist curriculum authority will find it hard to generate sufficient content in a controlled manner. Naturally, digital resources will grow organically out of the unpredictable interactions of large numbers of teachers – this has been happening for some time. IT dudes in schools have been working with Moodle for a number of years. People doing it for themselves. I expect the technology will result in more organic approach to distributed infrastructure and resource creation. That why a highly structured all-purpose Swiss Army knife approach like Ultranet has me worried. Not because of what it’s trying to do (which is actually quite visionary), but because the command and control nature of it will result in its inevitable failure. It needs to be a collaborative web if it is to engage with and reflect the realities of the people using it. A side effect of massive IT education failure (KidMap anyone?) is that you can burn out a whole cohort of teachers and turn them off technology for a long while.

    Tech Support on-costs are going to be significant and need to be urgently boosted, for if the infrastructure is to be useful it requires on-demand technicians. The support docs contain suggested policies and MOUs for schools and parents. Only licensed software can be used and it’s implicit that the netbooks are not be used to breach copyright or piracy. Parents are expected to be responsible for the health, backup and well-being of the netbook. If it comes to school, and is in some way dysfunctional, a self-imaging process can be initiated – I hope they can self connect to the network! Open source software would overcome licensing issues and foster the creativity and inventiveness you speak of.

    Interesting times!

  5. Kevin Kelly, he’s the dude.

  6. slim says:

    Oh yeah, KK is the the dude of ubergeek futurism. I laughed when I realised he was involved in The Whole Earth Catalog. I’d forgotten all about that august publication. It was the hippy counterculture Haight Ashbury Bible, Man!

    Some amazing reading on his site – it hurts my head, the ideas are so big. Everything from data swarming, convergence theory, Artificial Intelligence to God and spirituality. Even the comments are erudite. Hmm.. what if the One Machine that is the Interwebs develops emergent intelligence, then consciousness, or even self-consciousness. Will it turn into HAL and try to destroy us. Good to see someone is still thinking about such stuff!

    Cosmic stuff.

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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