Skip to main content
Marooned Between Milton Keynes & The New Economy

My thoughts aren’t particularly charitable or digital today, stuck, as I am on a train somewhere between Birmingham and London. A signal failure I’m told, today’s excuse for the failure of our third-world rail service.

I had joked this morning, when the snow was piling-up outside the hotel in Birmingham, that I’d probably be marooned. Wrong kind of snow you see and never once, have I caught a Virgin Express train and not experienced a serious problem or delay.

It could be worse I suppose. After once experiencing a seven hours delay on the London to Paris shuttle, I swore I would avoid trains at all cost but then the people who joined me in Birmingham this morning told me that the last ten miles into the city from the motorway took them an hour. Ironically, it’s taken an hour to go less than five miles on the train I'm sitting on now.

At £100 return, second-class of course, the train, pound for pound is more expensive than a First Class return to Dubai on Emirates but without the frills although the February sunshine through the carriage windows is bright enough for 35,000 feet and I can’t see the cursor on my laptop.

As a nation, we can’t even manage to make the trains run on time and yet we have ambitions of becoming the second-largest knowledge economy after the United States. It’s hardly credible and from simply looking at the achivements of government technology projects, I'm forced to suspect our political leaders of collectively indulging in delusional masturbation, a passion that has blinded them to the sad decline of a once great Britain at the start of the 21st century. Wet dreams of an egalitarian, multi-cultural knowledge economy protected by an army that has no boots and an air force which can’t afford to keep its pilots in the air.

An advanced society differs from a third-world slum in that its citizens share a sense of identity, responsibility and purpose. This national pride is clearly visible in the way that Americans pull together to create chocolate fudge cake, Disney World and an atmosphere of reliability and efficiency, which contrasts with Euro Disney and some of the middle-eastern states I know so well as well as many of the failing inner cities councils in this country.

When we lose this sense of pride, it becomes so much easier for the BNP to win seats at local council elections and far easier to accept why a society would reject leaders with names like Tony and Ian and instead vote for a bloke called Adolph, who offers not only to throw out the European Convention on Human Rights but to make the trains run on time and the carrying of gilded tissue boxes in beaten-up Mercedes a criminal offence that carries a deportation order

I’m tempted to take a trip to France to claim political asylum or simply leave the lunatics to run the asylum but unfortunately that involves catching a train and the one I’m on has no intention of moving much further beyond Milton Keynes today.


Popular posts from this blog

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…
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…

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 …