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The Forum > Article Comments > Navigating through a universe of information > Comments

Navigating through a universe of information : Comments

By John Hartley, published 7/5/2007

Creative talent now commands economic as well as symbolic value - so how about a national innovation system?

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Sadly, this is the quality of thought and depth of understanding that we have come to expect from academics when discussing information technology. Out of touch, out of date and totally bereft of ideas.

>>Even less thought seems to have gone into how they - or rather we - will acquire the skills and motivations required to benefit fully from this new toy<<

The "new toy" that the author refers to is a faster broadband infrastructure to support Internet activity.

A toy, professor?

>>The 19th and 20th centuries were notable for massive and sustained public investment ... the infrastructure needed to deliver near-universal print-literacy at low cost to the user. ...That effort has not been matched in the digital era<<

Notably absent from this somewhat laboured comparison is any clue as to how this should be achieved. Teaching people to read and write is a reasonably well-understood task. The words exist, and in a standard format. Within language boundaries, of course, but the mechanics are similar.

It could be argued that these two skills form 99% of the capabilities required to access and use the Internet. The last 1% is the task of the software manufacturers, making it even easier and more intuitive to take part in the experience.

The author seems to have totally disregarded the evidence right under his nose, despite having seen it and remarked upon it:

>>Teens evidently don’t see computers as technology<<

Right. They don't. Computers - or any Internet-active devices, for that matter - are simply tools, a means to an end. Having been brought up with them, they neither fear them nor find them puzzling.

>>From this, kids also learn that formal education’s top priority is not to make them digitally literate...<<

But... they already *are* digitally literate. Ask your daughter.

>>schools and universities... have not proven to be adept at enabling demand-driven and distributed learning networks for imaginative rather than instrumental purposes... There are already loftier ambitions for scientific, intellectual and public uses of the Internet... which is why “everyone” needs to be emancipated into digital citizenship<<

Lots of words. No meaning.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 7 May 2007 11:53:33 AM
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Navigating through the Universe of information confronting us and on into an uncertain future is like being born. You stick your head out and go for broke! No breach births round here thank you.

Australia should thus develop its own space program. Anything less is a breach abort for our future.

Australia is in a curiously unique position to follow this precept.

* We lead the world in SCRAMJET technology

* We can afford it. We can be one of the richest nations on Earth by supplying value added Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactors and fuel to the rest of an energy uncertain planet.

* We are just a stone's throw from the BEST Equatorial 4500 Mtr mountaintop launch pad in the world - Mt Wilhelm in New Guinea.

* We have some of the best heavy infrastructure capability in the World as evidenced by the construction of Sydney's Light Horse Exchange and the Woronora Incremental Launched High-top Bridge.

The Technology to be used is unmanned, semi robotc GPAL (GUN launch (to 4.2 km/sec), PACKET-SWITCHED, scramjet ASSIST(to 9.7km/sec), INCREMENTAL launch).

Essentially GPAL will SCREW one ton packets of materiel packaged in the standard 7 layer OSI data model to Low Earth orbit interactively through 7 sensitive atmospheric pressure zones. The details are oh so secret but 20 standard packet types could autonomously and remotely build power stations, human habitats, manufacturing facilities and scientific data collectors anywhere between Mercury and the Moon. Any further out has insufficient solar energy to power GPAL or any other initiatives as NASA is yet to lament upon. And with a GPAL compiler, Aussie high school students would eventually be able to design and implement space applications all the way to the SUN.

Hell, we all screw our way through the information we struggle with today so we might as well get used to the idea that Australian's don't so much need to navigate our way through the Universe of future information before us but rather SCREW our way through it via a gettable mastery of near SPACE.
Posted by KAEP, Monday, 7 May 2007 5:50:54 PM
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John Hartley describes the new “toy” accurately. No value is added if it is used in the manner of Hartley’s daughter et al and Hartley merely asks how we will value-add to Australia as a nation of innovators if we do not learn to create rather than blog. Queensland might title itself “the clever state” but - with an education system that fundamentally dismisses technology as self-expression rather than providing a developmental curriculum aimed to generate wealth by way of that technology - it really is not so clever. When Pericles next confronts the life-saving medical technology in his state hospital, I bet he/she expects the medicos to do more than surf. Likewise, nearly every school kid is sufficiently literate to know where the kidney is but few are capable to operate on one. Pericles confuses computer ‘literacy’ with ‘knowledge’. John Hartley’s call for a solid foundation upon which to build Australia’s wealth demands a capability founded on educational pedagogy that might even emancipate the likes of Pericles. Australia desperately needs a future generation to develop technology beyond superficial self-absorption.
Posted by Futures, Monday, 7 May 2007 7:07:33 PM
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What an entirely mis-guided load of rubbish!

The fact that a bunch of pre-teens and teens can babble on endlessly about them selves, and have the manual dexterity to operate the most clumsy human interface ever invented (i.e. SMS on a mobile phone), doesn't indicate intelligence or a thought process. It just proves they are good at playing with toys!

Just think for a moment who their "idols" are.... yes, Australian Idol (duoh), Big Brother (duoh) and Paris Hilton (*#$&). So, basically a bunch of performer wannabees, another bunch of narcissistic people doing nothing and a wealthy American whore ! No wonder their brains are turning to jelly - if this is all that the new media/technology/"culture" has to offer.

Australia began to lose it's collective intelligence in the mid 70s, when a generation of students ceased to be taught the Engish language at high school. What followed was a series of experiments in eduation that resuted in a a whole generation of, now, teachers who cannot articulate ideas, let alone teach that principle to others.

Testament to this is the rapid "dumbing down" of our education system, with the attendant loss of collective knowledge and experience, to the lowest common denominator. Yep, dumb them down, keep them happy with "bread and circuses" (or McDonalds, beer, football and Australian Idol). As an afterthought we'll cut their wages because they aren't smart enough to do a better job.

In the 1980's we designed and manufactured one of the world's first laptop computers. It was almost exclusively manufactured in Australia with local components. I'll bet we couldn't do that now!

In any case it doesn't really matter now.... John Howard wants a dumb workforce. They can be more easily controlled and they don't ask difficult questions (they don't know how)!
Posted by Iluvatar, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 11:04:19 AM
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Well may you ask: "How to make the entire country into an “open innovation network”?'

Why stop at our national boarders? Hyper-space has seen internet cafes spring up all around the world - even into the most impoverished communities in the world. Many open 24x7. This is the revolution where awareness of our interconectedness to global humanity takes centre stage.

The UN Millenium goals to tackle global poverty can be assisted by the potential facilities offered by broadband. The power of information can break down trade and communication barriers while offering useful tools to tackle some of the most intractable obstacles to development such as procurement corruption.

Web based electronic tendering with evaluation software offers a way forward to vastly improve transparency and fairness in public procurement - opening trade and cutting costs.

Whilst the 'developed countries' we have an aging population, many of whom still shun web services, the Y generation accross the globe have no such inhibitions. Developing countries have majorities with young populations who increasingly show a willingness to engage in fresh ideas.

Youth also tend to more readily appreciate other cultural perspectives and the pre-eminent role that science plays in innovation and development.

Communities of innovation and creativity tend to develop around shared interests and goals. National boarders serve no purpose and increasingly become a hinderance to investment and participation.

Where is this global broadband revolution leading us then? Surgery may involve working with robotics in every city of the world. University courses may be opened to anyone who has the interest and aptitude.

Collaboration on SCRAM jets to compost toilets. International justice is likely to be enhanced to extend the protection of human rights and intellectual property rights world wide.

When we look at the mess the world is in under present arrangements, frequently due to the greed, fundamentalism or nationalism of elites, then the world wide revolution underway can't come quick enough. Doesn't everyone deserve the right to share their dreams and have the opportunity of realising their full potential in life - no matter where they currently reside?
Posted by Quick response, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 2:01:49 PM
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You've just reminded me of how far (back) we've come, and the arrogance of the so-called computer literate generation.

Please allow me to indulge in a high tech anecdote....

Some years ago now, a small startup in California decided to "invent" a new type of CPU ('chip' to the common folk). These were the brightest of the bright, who wanted to take on Intel and their ilk, and beat them at their own game. They came up with a design and it became known as "Transmeta". It was supposed to be a very fast performer and would wipe Intel off the map. They named their "awesome" architectural innovation "code morphing". This was also seen as suitably impressive by the assembled media and techno-sychophants.

However, it's actual performance results were less than startling, and they were puzzled; until one "old timer" (in his fifties) said that this appeared to be exactly similar to a technique used in the 70's known a "microcode emulation". (In fact I studied this technique in undergraduate EE in Sydney around then).

The moral of the story? (forgive the misquote) Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

So much for the smart firebrands in Silicon Valley or our so-called "technology literate" generation here.

Let's not confuse the actual use of a tool with the knowledge of how to apply it. This is akin to likening someone who can use a pen (or a word processor) to being a good author !
Posted by Iluvatar, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 3:00:12 PM
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