Skip to main content
Boys from the Black Stuff

I counted six men standing by the Police car on the hard shoulder. Whether there were anymore unexpected passengers inside the French truck I couldn’t tell, as my Harley Davidson, with noisy indifference, thundered past the little group on the way down to my home in North Kent.

Four hundred yards from my window overlooking the sea there’s a long patch of rough grass under the cliff. At the moment, living in three cheap ‘bell’ tents, surrounded by cardboard boxes, there’s a family with two children. Whether they know about the £3 billion that the Chancellor is making available for Government IT projects is irrelevant because, I would guess that as a group, they lie as far as its possible to go on the wrong side of the ‘Digital Divide’ without actually falling into the sea in front of their pathetic home.

On Friday last, one of our readers telephoned me to ask if I might be hiring IT people. “Sorry” I said, “I can’t think of anyone who is at the moment, quite the opposite in fact”.

He replied: “Well I survived the recession of 1991 and with luck, I’ll survive this one but it’s strange that it seems to be kept so quiet, the recession that is”.

So what’s my point? The men in the back of that truck want work and I’m sure that the father of the two small children on the seafront does as well. And our reader? Well he’s had it, lost it and is looking for it again.

If you listen to Government, then IT skills are the way to guarantee your future. Certainly, we all need to know how to use a PC and the Internet and VCR and Sky Television remote but those aren’t true IT skills and even if you have ‘real’ technology skills, finding and keeping a job isn’t as easy as it was ten years ago.

What will the result be, I wonder when the £3 billion has been spent and perhaps another £3 billion is granted on top before the next election – public sector projects invariably overrun - . We will have built our IT equivalent of the Dome and then what? As a nation, – and I don’t just mean Greater London - will we suddenly become a knowledge economy where the trains run on time? When the efficiencies promised by Oracle or Microsoft or Sun, finally transform the public sector, where will all the people go and where will all the jobs be? In IT? Somehow, I don’t think so.

From where I sit, as cynical as you might expect, I see an IT sector which is thinning out dramatically and a manufacturing sector which is dying on its feet. Somewhere in between lies the grand promise of a future place in the evolving knowledge economy and throwing money at huge public-sector IT projects is supposed to jump-start the process.

But like the child in the fairytale of “The King’s New Clothes’, I have an awkward question. Has anyone given any sensible thought to what happens, if like the Dome, the great plan swallows the money and the result is an expensive disappointment? And what is a job in the Knowledge Economy anyway and how well does it translate into Albanian?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …