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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Paid work done...time for the hobby

Today's required reading should include Benoit and Diffraction Analysis's World of Fiber document. (NB public sector p11 -13 reqd reading). You should watch Marit and Dave's community study tour video of Sweden. You should read the transcript of the Telegraph live broadband debate. And then, apply what you now know and make judgements....It must be time for newbies to LISTEN to these people/experts and the many others like them.

Over the last few weeks, I have heard some very disconcerting stories about public bodies' approaches to grassroots' experts, including those experts who are held in high regard by telcos, governments, regulators, communities AND grassroot activists etc. New to the game? I wouldn't like to be playing a 15- 25 + year catch up as a newbie right now, BUT YOU ARE...

This blog post can be read at

Of course, there is nothing new under the sun. Our public authorities, just like in Romans, Vikings, Egyptians etc eras, assume they are in the best position to get the best information. And, armed with that, they can then rule.

What is often forgotten amongst these salaried folk with pensions (or chariots, warships, grapes dangled subtley by fair maidens etc) is that "innovation begins at the edge" (No expert starts in the middle - Benoit, Martin, Chris, Peter, David, Larry, Dave, Jimi, Geoff, and many, many others have worked very hard to be who they now are in the broadband world). And your job depends on you being able to work with the people who know what you never will.

Nearly everyone I know who has made things happen in broadband was not paid to do so. At least, not at first. I guess you could call us 'hobbyists', or 'yogurt knitters' if you want to stoop that low. But some, in fact a large proportion, are now highly respected experts in the field. And many are highly paid. Dismiss these people at your peril. (They may earn way more than you or me!)

Have *you* spent 10-25 years learning about broadband, FTTH, networks, next gen economics, collaborative and community finance initiatives? Or just 1 or 2?

The reality is that with all these things - be it electricity generation in the 1920s, inventing Word processing in the 70s, or fibre installs in the Noughties - it has not been the corporates or public sector who actually innovated. They ADOPTED.

It has frequently and repeatedly been the grassroots people who made it all happen. And who have earned the right to, justifiably, be called the experts in the field. Not just for community broadband, but as telecoms and mobile analysts, as fibre optic specialists, as business modellers whose models are sought by telcos the world over, for emergency and disaster deployment in crises, etc. And how did the vast majority start? Because it interested them....

It is those people who CARE that you should nurture. Their private interests may make them your local expert, accepted across every community body, just as Kees Rovers is, in Neunen and internationally. His FTTH marketing via the milkman using lollipop sticks is legendary the world over. And if you don't know that story, then your place in the decision making world of 21st century broadband is highly dubious.

And now, whoever you are, these are today's links and they are required reading. As Tom Lehrer said, "There will be test at the end of the period..":

Aka The Benoit Report (with enormous respect to James, Costas and Herman)

Marit and Dave do Sweden - all of you have known me since 2000 will know how pleased I am to see this 'travel agency' idea finally become real. BSG and all the others who ignored me - be ashamed!!!

The Telegraph debate - copied on a separate blog post as the Telegraph do not appear to have archived it.


Cybersavvy UK said...

I want to add to this post, as the relevant paragraph has vanished in a cross browser moment, that this post was inspired (or transpired) because my Council - Cumbria County Council - treated one of our broadband experts appallingly this week.

Until I have permission I will not name the civil servant nor the party involved, but I would very much like some answers from the Council about their treatment of people in this county who are JFDI, instead of waiting for public subsidies, and/or empty promises, to fill the massive hole caused by Project Access (cost: £20M 5 years ago)

Perhaps Commendium might like to comment on why Cumbria is in this dreadful, non- competitive broadband position in 2011?

chris said...

I think the relevant bodies are sheepwalking. Its a bit like sleepwalking but more harmful. We need them to learn what next generation access is all about, and then projects like access won't con them into spending our money - if we aren't careful history will repeat itself and we will end up with project Infinity.
chris is the sheepwalking link