|Copyright: LAnnison 2009|
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
Whether or not you care about the current kerfuffle about Tower Bridge, that is what has triggered this post. As ever, my joining up of dots may leave you struggling a tad to follow me, but....
There are undoubtedly many things in your life about which you have a hearty rant over. Or, I suspect you wouldn't read this blog! And so we should. It is, after all, just human. But this is the line that got me going...
Make a fuss, a small, polite, British fuss, about this one, if you will.
That is the problem. My problem, maybe, but the purpose of this post. I strongly suspect, judging by my conversations this evening and in recent week and months, that I am in no way alone.
Making a fuss, small and polite, achieves nothing in this country. Yet it is what, somehow, we have been brought up to think is a way forward in a democratic country. However, the reality is that we are politely ushered to the door, or the trash can of someone's email account, (or arrested on some spurious, trumped up charge as my Quaker friends have just pointed out to me) in the hope that we will go away with our qualms, our complaints, our Mr Angry of Acacia Avenue attempts to re-direct central decision-making and the resulting cock-ups which affect friends, family, communities etc back to the right, sensible, logical, economically viable path.
A common hashtag, which I suspect few of the target audience are even aware of, is #digitalbritainmyarse. A quiet, unassuming, British way of making public the frustration and ire that is becoming prevalent as Britain appears to enter a whole new decade of broadband balls-ups. In fact, thinking about it, there are far too many B's in this debacle. BDUK, Big Society, even the term 'broadband' lost its impact as soon as BT (oh, another one) spent £35M teaching the whole of Britain the meaning of the term according to a private company's long-term plan to NOT spend the Billions required to make this country broadband-enabled.
Never mind that it doesn't take a first year secondary student sproglet more than a minute to grasp why broadband matters to EVERYONE, it seems that as a nation we are unwilling to grasp the nettle and force it to happen. Oooooh nooooo, let's just be polite and courteous and quiet and unassuming and NOT MAKE A FUSS.
Because, surely, those large corporates must remember what they owe this country for this asset; those councillors are surely aware of the importance of this infrastructure to those who elected them and PAY THEIR WAGES; the government must surely, always, have our best interests at heart?
We can't possibly have bred a nation of sycophantic, career-minded, and selfish to the extreme, in-it-for-me, I'm alright Jacks? Or have we?
I'm beginning to think that Fibrevolution needs a big R in the middle of it to remind people that maybe the samizdats that used to say the awkward stuff, the journalists who ask the difficult questions, the grassroots folk who are willing to put their everything on the line (another word that begins with B) and stick their heads way over the parapet, are actually right. And that being quiet whilst being walked all over is no longer the way to play IT for this nation.
How much do we have to lose before someone actually sees sense and fights back? Go demonstrate if you wish in London, but the so-called Big Society thinking will still see foolish Councils wasting your money on pursuing one person who tweets.
Civil servants from London can still mislead people in deepest, darkest Cumbria to believe that one of the most likely companies which can deliver 21st century comms to rural areas is one which has blatantly failed to for the whole of the last decade. Let's have a shindig at the racecourse......
"Led down the garden path..." is a phrase which springs to mind. What we are currently doing is continuing to support the village shop, blindly, when all it sells is out of date bread. Worse still, we are using public money to subsidise it to flog us all bread which every single one of us knows fails to be good toast, is inedible, and is possibly causing us all to be ill, and off work. It is costing each one of us our own money to support a failure.
Is that how Britain now operates? No bloody wonder people are still leaving in droves. And more fool the poor folk in Calais queuing to get in.
As I've said previously, I will put my money where my mouth is to stop this rot that is occurring across our green and pleasant land. And if it means saying things some people would prefer I didn't, tough.
I am putting the first £1500 of the 5k of my own money I pledged into a community pot that will not even connect my house. I am willing to nominate someone else to be connected for me (obviously, I then expect full squatter's rights!!! JK) because I believe that unless those of us who know what is required show others by playing a very hard game, and use our own money to support initiatives that will show up the appalling failures of the public purse holders to act responsibly and IN THE PUBLIC GOOD, this country is going to the, um, Bogs. (For want of another B)
Any other community who needs this level of support, just ask me. I don't know how much I can sell of my children's future before there is a level of uproar from the next generation, but I will show willing to help others in order to highlight what we actually need to be doing as a generation who should be leaving something behind, not trying to take it all now. You, who know me, all know that I am in this for the outcome and not the income, and I am near as dammit bankrupt, but I'll fight this corner as long as I can. And perhaps persuade a few of you along for the ride ;o)
The figures for rural FTTH, as I have stated for years, stack up. There is no good reason why the telcos are depriving this country of simple infrastructure that 5+ years ago at a Digital Dales colloquium in South Witham, Brian Condon clearly and simply illustrated was as important as water and electricity, to both homes and businesses. It has become more so in the intervening time. (Sadly, Brian's contribution is on a video tape that I cannot easily convert now).
If you have a few spare quid, I can point you to community projects to support which will show up BDUK, BIS (how could I forget that B?!), councils, consultants and the incumbent. These communities have worked very hard to ensure that you get your money back by minimising risk and playing by the Book. These community folk are honourable and not here to rip you off, profit at your expense, or pay fat cat wages. All they want is a nextgen broadband connection and to see the Blue Pound effect in their community. As well as prove that it has been hype that has held this country hostage for far too long.
Local money spent within the community, to support that community far into the future, not siphoned off by clever accountants and hard-sell managers who cannot see beyond their own shiny shoes and fast cars. Or Backhanders.
If you have a community or social conscience, don't keep it to yourself any longer. This country cannot afford it.
Once again, I am putting my money where my mouth is. I pledge to support, with hard cash, as many of the communities as I can who will help to unravel the lies this country's telecoms failings are built upon. Whether they connect me or not. For my kids' future and a reason for the next generation to be proud to be British, as I no longer am.
Remember: Next Generation Access - it's not about YOU!