Skip to main content
A Million Different People from One Day to the Next

Cos it’s a bitter sweet symphony that’s life. Trying make ends meet you’re a slave to money until you die”

I may be asked to write a feature for The Observer this week, so while others use their public holiday to cut the grass, I’m blowing smoke rings and fighting the usual battle with the inspiration fairy, while my wife cuts the grass.



This is of course Monday but it’s not a real Monday. It’s the kind of Monday that most of us would quite happily accept for the rest of our lives but which we only get three times a year, which does seem a little unfair.

When I left school, just as the Vietnam War was finishing my teachers told me that I should find a job in the recreation and leisure industry, because everyone was anticipating a future where we only worked three days a week, if that.

Computers you see, they were going to lead us towards a life of leisure in a world not too far distant from Fritz Lang’s movie Metropolis.

It didn’t quite work out that way did it? Computers gave us the ‘just in time’ society, which is a polite way of saying that they finished the work of the industrial revolution and robbed us of any time we had left to be human. The factory whistle, which once reminded the newly-arrived workforce in the ‘satanic mills’ of the 19th century that time was their master and not a space to be filled by the seasons has, in the 21st century, given way to the polite but insistent tone of email arriving in one’s inbox.

Best finish my cigar and listen to ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ by the Verve all over again.


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 …