Friday, February 09, 2007

Data Management

Of course, I like this link very much. The man I refer to as 'IP Hosting' was kind enough to spread the joy around. But that said, I have to say that way back in 1996, when I first addressed the national convention of school principals, there were few who were not afraid of the coming 'doom'.

It was in 1997 that I told a senior officer that the Macintosh platform was here to stay. His reply was that Apple was a dying company, and that its products were not worth investing in because the company would go broke and nobody would be able to maintain or repair the computers. At that point in history, I suppose it looked possible, if you were listening to everyone else and not doing your own research.

This was a decade ago. Since then, I've been taking a look at schools all around the region. And the odd thing is that very few of them have any independent and coherent IT policy at all. What there is seems mostly to be of the 'if it is good enough for the Government, it is good enough for us' variety. This is what happens if schools see themselves as wholly-owned subsidiaries of some corporation.

But if schools are supposedly different, independent, creative and able to forge ahead in niche areas of their own, why the lacklustre IT situation? I'm not saying that the situation is bad; I'm saying that it literally lacks lustre. The national state of IT is nurturing an IT-capable generation who are running so much faster than many educational institutions that they are getting bored in school. It isn't as if we could not have seen this coming - it has happened in that great megalith and IT 'paragon', the good ol' USA.

We cannot keep playing catch-up to the big boys, and then say that it is a good strategy to piggy-back off them. This is true, but there has to be some innovation at the conceptual and non-physical level so that we can make use of the technological expertise we are supposedly piggybacking on. This allows us to leapfrog ahead in a few areas, so that a forward outpost can be established in the conceptual future that will support our newer generations. (Yes, I am now suddenly and painfully aware that this paragraph sounds like the blurb from some episode of The Muppet Show.)

I know why this is happening. People read little of history and hence do not see how human blind-spot tendencies exist and may be overcome. People read little of speculative literature and hence do not have the mental flexibility to exploit other people's blind spots. But practical experience tells us that the situations in which such knowledge is useful do not commonly appear, and the adoption curve is normally too steep for progress anyway.

Oh well, back I go to my machine from the 'ought to be dead by now' company, where I will continue to indulge in 'you ought to be dead for this by now' activities which actually contribute to the world of thought and the magic of humanity.

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