Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wikinomics for beginners

As I trudged home depressed from work last night, I was listening to a very interesting podcast on "Wikinomics" - this whole concept of how the 21st Century is rapidly becoming characterised by the economics of community-derived knowledge. The obvious example - and hence the name - was how Encyclopedia Britannica could be overtaken (x12) almost overnight by an army of authors to produce Wikipedia, an online, continuously updated reference library with the same level of authority/accuracy. They also gave the example of a mining company which published on the web its geological survey data (normally highly classified, business sensitive data) and offered a couple of million dollar reward for anyone who could "data mine" this better than their in house experts. The company generated several billion on the strength of this 'strategic investment' thanks to a bunch of curious web-friendly people who liked to solve problems. The techies among you can, not doubt, give many more eloquent examples - IBM/Linux, Boeing's superjumbo, etc.

This set me thinking. Several months ago, a quietly announced government decision has in one stroke undone twenty five years of previous government investment and good work by my peers and I in my particular field. The area doesn't matter, suffice to say when the shit eventually hits the fan in many years from now, we'll be decrying the short sighted political decision in the same manner as we decry the M50, bad planning and house price inflation, without connecting it to the very practical decisions of certain FF crooks/politicians. I am faced with the realisation that the last seven years of my own effort and that of about 25 colleagues has been wiped out, to secure a Government marginal set.

But enough about my problems (and soon to be our problem). My careful analysis of the situation is that the present Government, not surprisingly, want to be re-elected. Hence they'll do whatever is necessary to secure marginal seats - at whatever long term cost. Abolish rates, eliminate 3rd level fees, free medical cards .... It was ever thus. That's the nature of democracy. So, come the next election, what would the best result be for me - someone without political allegiance?

Throw out the present Government? I'm not naive enough to believe that the opposition won't pull similar strokes in advance of the subsequent election.

Hope for a landslide victory by one side for that the Government will be secure and might just do the right things for the right reasons? But that's unlikely to happen, because our PR system tends towards indecisive outcomes and coalition governments.

Keep returning alternate parties to power? Sure that will only make the problem worse!

Vote Green ? Sure that's a wasted vote.

Vote for the biggest party 'cos this has the best chance of returning a single party government?

Can you see my dilemma? I am angry and pissed off, I want to campaign for change so at least I can constructively vent my spleen and, if nothing else feel better. I just cannot motivate myself to go back to work on what was to me a most important social priority knowing that despite all my best efforts, some greasy politician will piss my efforts away for the instant gratification of re-election. What tactic should I employ that would best deliver a government with a tolerable political ethos and which would not pull strokes come the next election?

Without complicating matters with talk about nonsensical previous track records, supposed policies etc., can the Blogosphere community please advise this poor blogger on the best voting and electioneering strategies to deliver my objective of a strong benign government that does the right thing 'cos it is the right thing to do? (Armed revolution is not allowed as an option.)


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Anonymous Doug Karr said...

Hi Paige!

Thanks for the link back to my site. I wrote a post called Cocaine and Blogging and it speaks to some of your frustrations.

The flaw of our political environment is that our politicians MUST be short-sited because their re-election depends on it. It is terrible - but voters seem to buy it, hook, line and sinker!

1:58 a.m., March 23, 2007  
Blogger Fence said...

Well, judging by the polls being mentioned on the radio this morning, voting Green doesn't look like a wasted vote at all.

I tend towards voting for personalities rather than parties, but that probbly only adds to the problem.
Democracy is pretty much mob rule, and we all know the sheep-like IQ of a mob.

8:35 a.m., March 23, 2007  
Anonymous copernicus said...

After 80 years of independence, one party has shown itself to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to strokes, corruption and putting self before the public interest.

And if this issue you've been screwed on is so important why can't you expose it? At least the public could make an informed decision at the polls.

10:51 p.m., March 27, 2007  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I'm with Copernicus in my curiosity. "The area doesn't matter...", are you sure about that? I know it's an opinion and you are entitled to your opinion, but now that you have shared with us an intriguing fragment on information, there are some who will not rest until we know what you were referring to.
You make it sound as if a lot of effort and interest has been put into an area of public policy, only to have that effort overridden by short term political advantage-seeking. It's no fair to lean on you to whistle blow: you are making up your own mind on that. But I wonder whether you are serious about your search for suggestions on how to get a decent government?
There is so much you know already:

(1) It is a long haul.
(2) There are no guarantees.
(3) It'll never be better than compromise.

Of course, you may prefer to remain an idealist, perhaps a utopian, certainly frustrated by the messiness of politicians and their electorate.

Doug Karr says "politicians MUST be short-sited... [a brilliant faut pas?]" and I'm reminded of the phrase "in the long run we are all dead..."

The knack surely is to join up a load of short-sighted responses into a coherent integrated whole. This requires someone with vision to kick it into place, to make it all make sense, to persuade the electorate that action has logic and hope.

It may be time for you Paige to spring yourself into the fray. You have enough youth on your side that there may yet be time for you to make an impact.

11:05 p.m., March 28, 2007  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Doug, thanks for the comment and interesting post.

Fence, I have to agree.

Copernicus, I didn't say my issue was that important, I think it is the principle which is important. Incidentally the last party to screw over this area happens to be the main opposition alternative government.

Omani, wise words as ever. I hope that I "remain" an idealist!


9:30 p.m., March 29, 2007  

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