When IT Meets Politics

Dec 24 2009   12:50PM GMT

Is Global Warming God’s way of telling us something?

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Tags:
Google
Quality of Service
Search engines
Social networks
troFacebook

Two thousand years ago God sent his only son as the final messenger to tell mankind to get its act together. Two thousand years of “progress” later, most of us, still appear unable to plan for the inevitable. Y2K was a classic dummy run: expensive for those dummies who had not fixed their systems well in advance: in ICL John Pinkerton ordered us to fix them as part of the   decimalisation programme – back in 1971.

The chaos caused by a little snow over recent days is a typical result of “optimising” for average conditions in a world where the average is no longer the norm, The reactions to my blog on “the attack on off-line banking” indicate just how seriously the on-line enthusiasts are misleading themselves with their own analyses. Just like the management of Eurostar.

I now have more detailed analyses from the Oxford Internet Institute survey: despite impressive growth over recent years barely 22% of the overall population currently uses on-line banking. Meanwhile the proportion actually transacting over the Internet more than once a month has actually fallen since 2007. I will blog in more detail early in the New Year.

Anecedotal evidence is that declining quality of service over the last couple of years is the prime culprit for the hesitance of the bulk of users to use the Internet for much more than e-mail, social networking and entertainment.

Why has that service declined?

Or, is it merely a perception resulting from increased familiarly. In my own case, I have measured the decline. I have yet to make time to fight my way through the “system” to find out why a line that delivered 5.5 megs after it was last fixed is now commonly running at 2.2 megs. Meanwhile I suspect that the periodic “hangs” on my main desktop system are the portfolio of security products updating themselves – not a sub-portfolio of trojans that they have failed to detect. 

My own problems apart, although it is amazing how many appear to similar problems, the prime culprit is probably increased contention over the legacy local networks that still serve most of the population as the podcast generation seeks to download timeshifted broadcast material at the same time as our children exchange music and photos.

We can add in our failure to address the resilience problems of storm and flood that will become more common if we believe that God is indeed trying to tell us to get our act together: lest the planet be saved by the removal of its biggest polutant – mankind.

The time has come for the Internet enthusiasts to stop deluding themselves with their own propaganda and use the “breathing space” of recession to rethink their business models and provide products and services that are fit for purpose and economically sustainable.

In this context the growth within the UK of advertising-funded services (including search engines and social networks) is only sustainable if a reasonable proportion of the profit is invested into the local networks that carry the services to the consumers who will click on those adverts – not repatriated via Ireland to other parts of the world.

How that is to be achieved (enlightened capitalism and market forces or tax reforn and  regulation) is likely to be an interesting topic during the run up to the next election.

Meanwhile – Happy Christmas and a thoughtful New Year.

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