How to trust in the Internet when nothing there is real?

StephenWilson's picture

Suspension of disbelief when using the web is what enables most of the safety problems today, but the solution isn't to try to make people more wary "viewers".

The sorry state of our economy

StephenWilson's picture

Who do you get from business -- which captain of industry -- to enlighten us about the budget?

Here’s proof positive of the malaise that besets our once-clever country. In the lead-up to the budget last Monday, ABC radio’s “The World Today” interviewed just one senior business identity for their view on what the economy needed from the government. It was Gerry Harvey.

In a progressive, innovative, competitive country – like Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Ireland or Finland perhaps – you’d expect to hear from CEOs in smart, export-oriented industries, such as biotech, energy, IT or communications. But in Australia, the most influential magnate we have is a consumer goods retailer. Isn't it really pathetic that a country's economy can be so dominated by the retail sector? No wonder the chief economic policy lever in Australia is the blunt instrument of interest rates.

And to add insult to injury for those of us who wish we were cleverer, when interest rates are hiked to slow things down, the Gerry Harveys of the world proudly proclaim it's not making any difference to them. Nope, sales just keep on keep rising!

If it's public then it's not private. Really?

StephenWilson's picture

Can Metcalf's Law be applied to personal data management?

It is often said that if data about someone is already in the public domain, then that information is no longer private. Sounds reasonable, but I reckon that can become an insidious furphy.

"The data is already public" was the chief debating point advanced by proponents of searchable white pages. They argued that because publicly available paper white pages reveal everyone's phone numbers, surely having a searchable database didn't change anything. But a searchable digital white pages really is different. And not just quantitatively -- it makes reversing names from numbers vastly more efficient -- but also qualitatively.

For one thing, the very act of searching generates new types of information, much of which is private (and commercially valuable). For instance, whomever owns the searchable white pages also gets to know stuff like who else is interested in my phone number, and why. The owner can synthesise brand new information, none of which is accessible to me, even though nothing other than my 'already public' number has been revealed.

We're governing the life out of innovative organisations

StephenWilson's picture

If we're going to cultivate innovation, originality and creativity, then we need less governance, not more.

What on earth are managers up to these days? Here I write of the rise and rise of robotic, one dimensional, management-by-formula, and question if it is throttling innovation.

In linguistics, there is a rhetorical fondness of the imaginary “Martian Linguist” who, according to Chomskian thinking, on a visit to Earth would deduce from the evidence that all humans speak the one language, with only minor local variants. Well, I’m thinking that if management theorists from Mars were to watch the goings on at most board rooms today, they could be forgiven for thinking that all human enterprises are actually engaged in the same activity – compliance!

It might not be politically correct to question governance in these risk averse times, but here goes. Can we dare to ask, what is “governance”? In effect, as practiced, it is meta-management; that is, management of management.

Economics of renewable energy (not)

StephenWilson's picture

It's not for nothing that they call economics the "dismal science".  It seems to me that the world's attention to macro economics is what stops renewable energy.  I don't know if the following analysis is really new or not, but if it's accurate, then as things stand, no renewable energy scheme stands a chance, regardless of the greenhouse effect.

When you procure and install a renewable energy source, like a wind turbine or hot rocks plant, the financial transactions are simple, limited and rather local: 

- build the power plant

- operate the plant (pay a few staff, buy some occasional maintenance).

But our globally favorite energy schemes -- coal, gas, nuclear -- all involve mining and massive ongoing exchanges of finance and resources, both human and physical...