It’s only Broadband – get a life…
Human right or not, if the board game Monopoly were invented now, Broadband would be one of the Utilities. When I was a child the cliché remark Britons and Americans would make about countries like Tunisia, Turkey, Greece and even Spain as holiday destinations would be, “Don’t drink the water”.
Americans are horrified at the lack of air-conditioning and dribbly shower pressure in Britain, we are alarmed by sanitation in India and Kenya. Delhi Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge, Gyppy Tummy, all that. Wider issues of social justice, equity, western snobbery aside, it’s human nature when you travel to think of how your stay might be in a far country.
In New Zealand the roads are as good as any country I’ve ever visited. The coffee is better. The food generally is exquisite. The water supply fresh and easily drinkable. The wine-making is outstanding. The public transport system (certainly within Wellington) as is good as it gets. The infrastructure fabric on both islands is as first world as you could find. I don’t remember seeing so much as one pothole in the surface of the roads from the top of North Island to the bottom of the South. I do wish there was a better signage system telling you whether, as you approach Mount Victoria from Seatoun and Miramar and have to make up the choice to drive round the headland or not, whether the bloody tunnel is going to be opened or closed, but that’s another matter. There is a sign, it’s just that it’s a useless one. Stop, it Stephen. You’ll only get into trouble again.
My 23 year old godson sent me this, just today, direct quote. Unaltered by one syllable.
“I imagine you might be in New Zealand right now, is that right? Hobbiting? I hope that that’s all going well and that it’s nice being out there. From the three weeks I spent in New Zealand on my gap year I do remember thinking that I had never, and would never be again, be in a more stunning place in my life. So I hope that’s the case for you too. “
Those are the words of a privileged, intelligent, talented, charming and well-travelled Englishman. There is so much to love here, so much for Kiwis to be proud of.
This is the country that produced Ernest Rutherford, the man who split the atom and Edmund Hillary the man who first stood on the peak of Mount Everest. This is the first democracy to give women the vote. Despite the sheep jokes this is as sophisticated, progressive and forward looking a nation-state as exists in the world, its population of a mere four million or so punching hugely above their weight in almost every field of endeavour.
The harnessing of the remarkable talents of Sirs Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor created the Wellywood phenomenon. James Cameron had to come to Wellington to make Avatar because, quite simply, there weren’t the technical facilities or expertise anywhere else in the world. New Zealand is a most astonishingly beautiful country, the people are friendly and charming, though I wouldn’t want to be in a ruck or a maul with them on a rugby field. They’re outdoorsy but lack the brashness that can be found (attractively in its own way) in Australia. Modest, welcoming, zoologically and botanically unique, there are few places in the world where I feel more at home than kiwiland and if I offended by being rude about its digital performance, then I am sorry. But I promise you it came from love. Well, love with mixed with early morning grumpiness.
My good friend, the ever reliable @elvis717 alerted me to this excellent document which outlines Sweden’s digital roadmap.
Like New Zealand, Sweden has a relatively small and scattered population. Sweden too punches above its weight, not just with Ikea, Volvo, Girls with dragon tattoos who kick over hornets’ nests and get up to all kinds of shenanigans, and Abba of course, but as a digital force. The home of Spotify and dozens of other influential start ups and major players in the IT world, Sweden decided some time ago that it wasn’t good enough to be good enough, it was important to be ahead of the game throughout the country and in terms of global comparison. As the document says in its opening statement: