As we enter another year, what better time for making predictions? I’m not saying these will come true in 2008, but I’m confident they will come true at some stage. Anyway, whoever said visionaries had to be good at time management? Look at Nostradamus. He made sure he was well dead before any of his predictions came back to haunt him.
- The Internet becomes the Intonet as the integration of virtual worlds, touch screens and plasma technolgy enables us to literally dive through our computer screens. We can finally experience what totally immersive content really means.
- Human beings are no longer born with fingers, just two thumbs for texting and joy stick control.
- Searching for words on Google which return no results becomes an Olympic sport.
- Returning online purchases becomes easier when bar code scanners become the latest USB accessory. Scanning the product bar code will instantly credit your account and cause the unwanted product to disintegrate in front of your eyes, Mission Impossible style.
- Every child in Africa has a Facebook page. Insufficient food but a Facebook page. A spokesman for Facebook unfortunately remarks: “The African kids are proving very popular with other users and are attracting friends like flies”.
- Scientists discover that the average distance between the sender of an e-mail and its recipient is less than two miles. This phenomenon becomes known internationally as the local loop, except in Ireland where of course it means something entirely different.
- A new development in hands free technology combined with a loophole in the law allows you to legally project incoming text messages onto the windscreen of your car.
- Microsoft is so engrossed in the development of its new operating system that it forgets to renew its domain name. Microsoft.com is now owned by the Irish Times.
It is Christmas 2012. Everyone buys petrol online at 20c a litre from Ryangas, the cheapest petrol station in town. Just don’t wait until your fuel warning light comes on or you will have to pay double. Order at least a month in advance and woe betide if you don’t know exactly how much petrol you will need when you arrive to fill up. If you need more than you ordered online, you will have to pay triple for it. Arrive in a car with a disabled sticker and you’re really stuffed, so make sure you hide it. And if the reg. number of the car you arrive in differs from the one you entered on the website you will have to start from scratch and in addition pay a €50 surcharge.
To most, it’s still worth it. So you negotiate the booby-trapped website and place your order. Then embark on the journey to your local Ryangas station which for some reason, no matter where you live, is always located 50km away. When you finally arrive to fill up, at least you can do so secure in the knowledge that every Ryangas petrol station is equipped with state-of-the-art petrol pumps, the cost of which has been pared to the bone by their not being equipped with nozzles. The forecourt is full, mainly with PL, SK and LT registered cars with their steering wheels on the wrong side. There is a small Ryangas surcharge for this due to these cars not having adequate insurance.
You go to the cash desk to be allocated your pump, only to be told that you should have done this before you arrived. They send you to the back of the building to pay a €3 surcharge while an attendant valet moves your car to the back of the queue. This procedure takes 15 minutes and actually costs Ryangas €4 but they absorb the difference as part of their customer training programme. You return to the desk to be told that you must pay a further €2 for not buying a Cuisine de France croissant which is usually complimentary but which you now have to pay for because there are none left and you didn’t take it when it was free.
You retrieve your car from the attendant valet and rejoin the queue. You are tempted to offer him a seasonal gratuity but the 150% government forecourt tax proves a deterrent and you don’t bother. While you are in the queue a number of other attendants try to sell you train tickets and you begin to see the merits of public transport. When you finally get to the pump, your hose is being straddled by a scantily clad female attendant posing for a Ryangas calendar shoot. She offers to sell you the resulting calendar for €12. You decline but her brother in a PL registered Astra buys one. He pays a special staff rate of €15 for this privilege. It is a Christmas present for his mother.
Exiting the forecourt, you carefully avoid the striking petrol truck drivers who are being nonchalantly trampled by a herd of grazing Charolais. What a load of bull, you think to yourself. You look forlornly at the Esso station across the road with its uncluttered forecourt and 120c a litre neon sign and promise yourself never again.
Returning to the concept of the intellectual infrastructure, why does this make sense? Reason 1: We love to communicate. We have more than one mobile phone per person. Reason 2: We love to publish. Ireland has produced four Nobel Prize winners for literature. Reason 3: We have global creative brands. U2, Riverdance, Guinness (the latter more a catalyst of creativity). Reason 4: We love litigation and should be good at protecting our IPR. Reason 5: Property trends will change. Why should property ownership always imply buildings?
So what would the Republic of Wireland team be if it was playing in an IPR World Cup? In attack we would have Beckett, Joyce, Bono and Roddy Doyle on the wing. In defense we would have Saint Finian of Moville in County Donegal, Saint Columba and High King Dermott. Who? In 561ad these were the protagonists in the first recorded incidence of IPR litigation IN THE WORLD! Hundreds of years before Gutenberg, an Irish dispute over ownership of a handwritten prayer book led to 2,000 casualties in the battle of Cooldrevny. Proving that Irish people are willing to lay their life on the line to protect their intellectual property. We need to capture that spirit of commitment again now!
So no problem with creativity and commitment, what about communication? No problem there either. The Irish communicate because we have an inherent and insatiable desire to do so. On the other hand, a little bit further north than Moville, we find the Finns who deployed technology not because they particularly wanted to communicate, but because they had to. Finland is a large country with a relatively small population. Cities are separated by long distances and by an inhospitable landscape. The telephone became essential early on, as did cars. It was logical that the mobile phone would take off. Hence the rise of Nokia, Finland’s predominant global brand. But the Finns are not natural communicators, at least not outside their own country, and are poor at exporting their ideas. By comparison the Irish have been global wanderers, flesh pressers and craicmeisters for years in the offline world. So online there should be no stopping us.
We must start to mobilise the troops now, the Republic of Wireland team backed up by every citizen who has a role to play either in the creation or consumption of digital services. We need to think about what we will do with ubiquitous broadband if we get it and how to do without it if we don’t. In the connected world, an unwired society would be like an island but we have always been an island and it hasn’t stopped us in the past. The digital revolution needed in Ireland is not a technological one but one that mobilises the wealth, creativity and determination that exists in this country. One that doesn’t wait for the drawbridge to be lowered but instead storms the walls to secure the lifeline we need to be a real player in the global networked economy.
As we approach the end of the year, let’s look back at the last decade. In 1997, I co-authored a publication for the European Commission called “The Future of Content”. We interviewed strategists and statesmen, artists and inventors, scientists and students … just about everybody really. It did more or less what it says on the tin: we asked them all to tell us where digital content was going. And they did. One contribution read:
“We must also recognise the social impetus that is building. Digital publishing gives every citizen the capability not only to consume but also to produce content. As hardware prices fall and marketing efforts accelerate, people are exposed to technology more and more and from a younger and younger age. Most of this technology comes in the form of devices for communicating, creating or accessing content: computers to surf the Internet, consoles to play interactive games, mobile phones to call your friends. With this exposure comes a technical maturity and a critical eye for good content. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and less passive and their influence on the commercial fate of new content services will be crucial”.
That probably could have been written today. It certainly applies today. But it was written before Facebook, Bebo, YouTube and even Google existed. The term social networking websites had not been invented at that time but that is exactly what we were talking about back then. 1997 was a good year for stargazing. As well as The Future of Content, Scott Adams also wrote a book about where things were going. His approach was slightly different but the sentiments were the same. It was called “The Dilbert Future – Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century”. In it he predicted that Internet capacity would increase indefinitely to keep up with the egos of the people using it. I wonder what he makes of Second Life. He also predicted a huge market for technology products that help workers “goof off and get paid for it”. He might have been talking about blogs, except as everyone knows, they don’t pay.
The point is there has been no serious evolutionary thinking done over the last ten years. That had already been done by 1997. What has actually happened over the last ten years relates more to emerging tools meeting predicted demand to create profitable opportunities for the founders of Google et al. This has been a decade of implementation, of accomplishment and of coming of age. The Internet equivalent of the Berlin Wall has come down and millions of people have become empowered to create user generated content. It has been a very consistent decade for me – I didn’t make money for writing the Future of Content, I didn’t make money on social networking and I’m not making money writing this blog. That is surely consistent. But I would do it all again. So I plan to write The Future of Content Ten Years On – or FOCX as I affectionately call it. If only Scott Adams will agree to be my co-author.
The broadband argument still rages. I was reminded of this while listening to Senator Shane Ross speaking at the IIA Net Visionary Awards recently. While he was clearly preaching to the converted on that particular occasion, there was no doubting his passion. Then I had a Utopian moment. What if there was complete saturation of broadband in Ireland? We seem to be perpetually standing in line behind this obstacle but what if broadband penetration was as extensive as mobile penetration? If every man, woman and child in the country had their own unique broadband connection, what would the resultant outpouring of productivity look like? Would there be a huge spike in GDP? Would Ireland become a glowing landmark for astronauts like the Belgian motorway network at night?
Perhaps it would be used to send large graphics files from Kilkenny to Sligo. Or empower the emergence of an indigenous Irish web giant. Or provide a platform for the James Joyce of the digital age. Or entertain us in our homes. In fact it will do all of these. And it will form the backbone of our intellectual infrastructure. Let’s face it we’re crap at physical infrastructure, things that are taken for granted in most countries don’t work here. I’m not just talking about the old chestnuts either –roads, railways etc. My local sorting office keeps losing my mail because (in their words) An Post is being overhauled and everything is in disarray. If I was on death row in San Quentin I would get my mail, but not in Dublin.
Anyhow, I digress. As a nation, we should be good at intellectual infrastructure. We should be as good at that as the Swiss are at inventing things. As a race we are creative, witty and even our large population of chancers are creative in their own right. Broadband can be the foundation of our intellectual infrastructure. However we should avoid concentrating our efforts solely on leveraging broadband for industrial productivity and third level education. We also need to nurture its use in schools, by the creative industries and for social networking. This needs to be the subject of a major government programme but it’s likely that getting the government on board will need to be the subject of a major programme in itself. Perhaps they could start by buying Ireland.com – only joking, but then that’s a joke that’s nearly as old as broadband.
eCommerce and online shopping are the focus of the Winter 2007 edition of State of the Net, including a new survey of how 25 major shopping websites in Ireland follow best practice in dealing with consumers. Two of Ireland’s best-known brands – Ryanair and Peats – came last in the survey, and only one brand – Meteor – scored a full ten out of ten. Ryanair’s low score arose partly because consumers repeatedly have to "opt out" during the booking process to avoid extra charges. Good practice in online shopping leaves it up to the consumer to "opt in" for additional services and promotions. Other key trends in this issue are:
- Runaway growth in online advertising in Ireland
- The top websites in Ireland in 2007
- Broadband uptake in Ireland compared with our international competitors
- How Irish eGovernment is performing
The Irish Internet Association has announced the winners of it’s Annual Net Visionary Awards at a gala function held in the Mansion House, Dublin.
Speaking at the awards IIA Chairman, Colm Lyon, Founder and MD of Realex Payments, said that the Irish Internet Industry was capable of transforming the Irish economy and that many Irish businesses were now engaged in the internet in a global fashion. These awards are an excellent barometer of the level of activity in the internet industry. This year it was great to see more regionalisation of award winners, more newcomers and more enterprises thinking beyond the norm in terms of their internet ambitions.
The awards received over 300 nominations and over 50,000 votes, a massive increase on last year. The awards are unique in that they are nominated and voted upon by members of the public.
Lorcan O’Sullivan from Enterprise Ireland, the Awards sponsor, said: “There is a new breed of Irish company that is harnessing the ongoing potential of the Internet as a medium without boundaries. The nominees and winners of the IIA Net Visionary Awards are testament to the creativity and calibre of those involved in the industry today. On behalf of Enterprise Ireland, I would like to congratulate all on their achievements. We sponsored this event in the hope that it would highlight role models that other Irish people working on the internet could usefully seek to emulate. The calibre of the winners fully justifies that hope”.
The full list of winners is listed below;
|Best Blogger||denise cox||Newsweaver|
|Best Online Banking||Mary Dillon||Bank of Ireland|
|Best Podcaster||Colm Hanratty||Hostelworld|
|Educational Contribution||Sr Mary Corr||St Raphaelas Primary School|
|e-Government||Gerry O’Malley||Motor Tax|
|Internet Entrepreneur||Lulu O’Sullivan||4GiftsDirect.com|
|Internet Marketer||Martin O’Leary||RaboDirect|
|Mobile Internet||Emer Conlon||RTĖ Aertel Mobile|
|Online Trader||Alan Stapleton||WhatCar.ie|
|Social Contribution||Niall O’Connor||Ireland.com|
|Technology Journalist||Damien Mulley||Sunday Tribune|
|Web Designer Excellence||Gillian McAuliffe||IrishJobs.ie|
|Web Developer Excellence||Ronan Smith||Pigsback.com|
Overall Net Visionary Fergus Burns – Nooked.com
Colm Lyon added that the Board of Directors had selected Fergus Burns of Nooked.com as the overall Net Visionary for 2007 as he, and his team, have developed the a leading and innovative feedcommerce platform and successfully brought it to the global marketplace.
Lots of goodies including news archives, high res photos, press services provided by IIA and access to industry experts are all available within the press area of the IIA website. So if you are a member of fourth estate then please get in touch with the IIA and get yourself a username and password for access.
Or if you prefer radio advert mode:
[ background noise of glasses clinking and pints being poured ]
Journo 1 : Jeez Mick, it’s been a shocking week at the paper
Journo 2: Why’s that Paddy?
Mick: Well I’ve been doing an internet related story, and I just can’t get access to stats and raw materials
Paddy: Have you been to iia dot ie forwardslash press
Mick: No I haven’t been to iia dot ie forwardslash press as I don’t think it will be able to help
Paddy: What sort of stuff to you need?
Mick: Well I need news archive stuff from last year
Paddy: You can get news archive stuff from last year at iia dot ie forwardslash press
Mick: That’s all well and good, but I also need high res print quality gallery photos for the magazine
Paddy: You can get high res print quality gallery photos at iia dot ie forwardslash press
Mick: Well I have an interview to do and no one to interview
Paddy: Funny you should mention it, you can get access to industry experts at iia dot ie forwardslash press
Mick: Wow, and can I get broad information on press services provided by the iia at iia dot ie forwardslash press?
Paddy: You can indeed get such information at iia dot ie forwardslash press
Mick: Incredible, my life was empty and void of direction before I heard about iia dot ie forwardslash press
Paddy: Just another seven pints each please barman, we both have early starts in the morning
[ bright and cheery voice ]
Leave room in your life for more pints, by using iia dot ie forwardslash press for all your internet press related needs.
I know I know, Web 2.0 is SOOOOO 2005. Tim O’Reilly and co can get all sniffy about the term if they want, heck they can even keep it if they want, here at Tibus we’ve moved on to Web 4.0, with plans to release Web 4.1 later in the year, Web 5.0 next year. Don’t let us catch any of ye using those terms, or we’ll sue your asses!
Anyhow, this is just a note to encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feeds on the IIA website, so you need never miss an important piece of information from the website ever again. If this blog entry was a radio ad, it would go something like
[ background noise of heavy city traffic and car horns ]
– Tired of losing your IIA Digital Digest into to the abyss of your corporate SPAM filter
– Concerned that your click through rate from the IIA Digital Digest isn’t reaching the heady heights of 7% – 10%
– Wanting to become part of an opt in crowd demanding attention and relevant content
– Not using Microsoft Outlook to its fullest potential
– Wanting to contrive a use for the Windows Vista RSS thingie down the right hand side
[ sound of waterfall flowing, birds chirping softly ]
Be part of the in crowd, by going to IIA.ie, selecting the RSS feed icon and subscribing to our NEWS, EVENTS and BLOG RSS feeds. Get the info, meet those click thru targets, enjoy intellectual superiority over your workmates by getting news first, and realise finally that it’s best just to uninstall the Vista RSS thingie.
Find fulfilment, joy and ultimate happiness, at the IIA.ie RSS feeds!