We have probably seen only the start of all the beneﬁts that the use of ICT can bring. If we use the technology correctly:
- those schoolchildren who ﬁnd it most diﬃcult to learn can instead, using their own computers, become the best in the class at searching, editing and presenting information
- severely ill patients admitted to hospital in an emergency will avoid having to give their case histories as the doctor will have received all the relevant information from the electronic patient records
- it will be possible for more service jobs to be done from home, raising quality of life, saving travel, time and money and reducing environmental impact
- ICT can make democracy more accessible, even from someone’s kitchen table.
None of that is news to any one you I am sure, but the permanency and importance of IT (or ICT as the Swedes like to call it – for Information and Communication Technologies) to the economies and destinies of nation states and their citizens cannot be overstated. Sweden, it seems, wants to emulate Steve Jobs’s quote from the great Wayne Gretzky who, on being asked why he was the greatest hockey player who ever lived, shrugged and replied that he guessed it was because while others skated towards the puck, he skated towards where the puck was going to be.
The New Zealand newspapers covered the government’s reaction to my “outburst” as such tweets are inevitably called by journalists. It is pretty clear that the New Zealand administration is aware that many Kiwis are highly dissatisfied with the performance of TelecomNZ, who had very swiftly moved to cancel the data cap on my service and replace an ancient dusty modem. I appreciated their attention and rapid service, but of course I had to point out – as many New Zealanders did – that I shouldn’t be getting any preferential treatment (and I certainly didn’t tweet in the expectation of it). It is not Stephen Fry who deserves a better broadband service, it is every New Zealand citizen.
Now I am aware that the heart-breaking catastrophe of Christchurch held back both government finances and also technology that was based out there and was preparing to improve the digital infrastructure. No one can blame TCNZ for that: what they and almost all New Zealand corporations have done to help rebuild the lives, destinies and future of Christchurch is inspiring and wholly to be commended. I am also aware, because the Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Communications and IT, wrote to the Hobbit production office to tell me about it, of the government’s $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband rollout. But are they still just looking at where the puck now is, I cannot but wonder?
I may have been grossly unfair. I certainly put a bit of oomph into the response of TCNZ’s competitors and perhaps that venerable old corporation itself, but it may be that it was not my place as a happy visitor to say or do any such thing.
The whole point of this blog is to try and explain that I will always make an arse of myself from time to time, whether it’s because I’m drunk, or lazy, or thoughtless or in a bad mood or just because I’m not thinking straight. I hope I don’t ever bully anyone or use my numbers to humiliate or harass, that would be very wrong, but I am a human being, not a public service. The whole Twitter experiment for me is about seeing whether I can, as a public person, be myself in public, unfiltered by a journalist, a PR company, an agenda or a ghost writer.
Why tweet, if you’re in the public eye? Just to sell tickets?
Why, you may ask, would I want to do such a thing? Lead a public life through Twitter? What possible bizarre form of exhibitionism would lead me to this? Or is it just crass commercialism?
Well, I shall level with you. It never started out as my intention, but the result of my life in Twitter is that I need never ever contribute to print media in any form again. Ever. If you have more followers than subscribe to the Independent, Guardian, Times, Financial Times and Daily Telegraph combined, then you can finally dispense once and for all with the whole horror of having to submit yourself for interview and profile. Sadly this includes saying no to all minority and student magazines or newspapers too, because of course mainstream papers ruthlessly steal from them, or the poverty-stricken minority magazines are persuaded to sell their content on.