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Monday, 30 November 2009

Getting it and saying it with flowers

Lots of people get it. The vision of NGA, the benefits, purpose, reasons, ways to achieve it, JFDI and so on. And some really don't...

Sadly, those that don't appear to get it seem to include those who really, really need to get it. These include people in government, MPs, ministers, govt departments, consultants and agencies employed by govt departments, RDAs, quangos set up to deliver on IT and Digital Britain targets, journalists, the health service, councils, housing developers, education chiefs, teachers, communities, consumers, planning agencies, public figures...I know you don't want me to go on. However, I will say that all of the above, luckily, also include people who do get it.

But, this last week, when we saw possibly as much, if not more, lunacy coming from government about P2P, filesharing, disconnecting people from the internet (is this ***really*** 21st century Britain pushing this type of logic?) as any nation needs to in a DECADE, I saw the most crass and stupid statement of the lot.

Just for once, and only under severe pressure, I will withhold the name and organisation involved, but let me tell you I am sitting here with a 1s and 0s gun to my head (not good for a pacifist) in order to keep anger and utter frustration at bay. This is an organisation who are (or would love to be) at the very forefront of delivering NGA to the UK and who claim to get it. Do they? Well, read on.

When a teleconferencing solution was suggested for a meeting, to avoid unnecessary travel from all ends of the country and to ensure everyone who needed to could attend and had the choice to either be there in person or by video conferencing - and hell, that's not easy in this country over the network (transport or data) most of us have access to - the person responding to the final meeting date, times, venue etc said,

"I would prefer to have a real meeting with people present."

This reminds me of James May's entry to the Royal Horticultural Show at Chelsea Flower Show (pick any link you like) this year. The RHS judges took exception to the fact that there were no flowers used. NO FLOWERS???!!! Take a good look around, my lovelies. There are hundreds of flowers.

Just as being made of plasticine didn't suddenly stop those beautiful fritallaries (thanks, Joanna Lumley!!) being flowers, neither does being at the other end of a telephone line or webcam suddenly convert you into a non-person or make it an 'unreal meeting'.

To say I am furious at the incapacity of people to realise where this world has already moved on to - we will all talk on Xmas Day undoubtedly over Skype and/or new ThxSanta webcams to family and friends worldwide, gleefully sharing the fact it is free - so zillions of people already endeavour (me included) to conduct our business and lives on a daily basis over this 'ere new-fangled technology. And have been doing in some cases for well over 10 years. (Ok, you got about 4 frames an hour, but it was novel back then!)

Unless those claiming to be at the forefront of delivering NGA and educating the masses (and I include MPs, journos, and you, you and you in that grouping) get it FAST, this country is going to be left...yes, Dad, I promise I won't swear....... BLOOMING (get the reference?!) light years behind.




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7 comments:

fibrelight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fibrelight said...

In one sense I agree with the anonymous Mr (or Mrs) X who said that he (or she) would prefer a face-to-face meeting. The best way to meet people is in person.

However we're living in a world where we collaborate across the globe, let alone the country.

In my day job I have to rely on video and teleconferencing all the time, as well as email and instant messaging. Is it ideal? No, often it is not. But the alternative is to stall the project, or have it spiral out of control. Both are, of course, unacceptable.

In the 21st century we have to use the tools available or we fail to get the job done. They shouldn't be seen as a hindrance but as enablers, allowing us to achieve the goals we set, unhindered by geography.

Text messages are still the devil's work, mind you.

Graham said...

I would prefer a face to face meeting over a tech enabled one every time, especially where more than two people are trying to meet. That doesn't mean to say I wouldn't be willing to use a tech solution, merely that I prefer a face to face. Don't shoot!

Cyberdoyle said...

There is no doubt face2face is best. But there are many of us in the NGA game who have a job unrelated to the Endgame project so dear to our hearts. To attend a meeting we lose a day (or more) of paid work. We have to pay to travel, eat, stay over etc. All this comes from our own pockets as we are just volunteers. I realise if someone is paid to attend these meetings as part of their day job it isn't as important an issue, but any meeting/event/conference these days should provide remote access for those who want to attend and engage with those who are there. Lots of vital grassroots information can be gained, even if only through a backchannel.
NGA is a vital issue, and the more who can contribute the better. Technology has given us the chance to engage a countrywide knowledge base. We are daft not to use it, cos dammitall that is why we are all working to enable everyone to do IT...
... isn't it?

GuyJ said...

In a telecommunications sense, this society like others the world over is in transition - an apt analogy or comparison is the move from slide rules to electroniuc calculators, from imperial to metric measurement system.

There is a time smear, an uneven distribution of development that will sort its self out with the relentless march of progress.

Someone once said the future is here and its unevenly distributed...

who was that?

Oh yeah - http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Gibson

GuyJ said...

In a telecommunications sense, this society like others the world over is in transition - an apt analogy or comparison is the move from slide rules to electroniuc calculators, from imperial to metric measurement system.

There is a time smear, an uneven distribution of development that will sort its self out with the relentless march of progress.

Someone once said the future is here and its unevenly distributed...

who was that?

Oh yeah - http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Gibson

GuyJ said...

As regards face to face meetings, they are a good idea to build connections between people at a level and in a way we have evolved to do effectively.

"Real meetings" also consume fuel, time, energy in a non-productive sense that is better spent otherwise often.

I'm intrigued by telepresence as a way to leverage said evolution - ie. to trick the mind like cinema film persuades our eyes that 24 still frames a second is really people somehow alive and animated.