Tuesday, July 9, 2013

NetHui - Political Speech

Amy Adams has gotten up at NetHui and I'm finding myself horrendously uninspired. Not quite as bad as David Shearer last year but pretty damn close. The government is doing stuff (what exactly, I can't really figure out). We've got TSO's and the TSO's specifications were written a while ago and Telecom are hindered by the low TSO specifications... The logic that Telecom can't do mre because of the TSO's just feels flawed.

I had the same question... what the hell is a TSO? It's the "Telecommunications Service Obligations". The thing that says that Telecom must maintain free local calling and phone books (as well as an emergency service i.e. 111). Basically, a set of minimum specifications. If we're relying on a set of minimum standards dictated by the government, something is going desperately wrong.

It's prudent to point out that government screwed up around Telecom and it's unbundling into Chrous and Telecom. The cost of RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative - basically the rural part of the Ultrafast broadband project) is incredibly prohibitive mainly because Telecom still own major parts of the copper between main town centers - meaning that while Chorus are able to put lines in and meet their obligations, Telecom can charge insane amounts to use their copper lines leading to huge amounts of frustration to every one except perhaps Telecom shareholders.

I think the major disconnect for me around Amy Adams is that she hasn't moderated her language and mannerisms to non-politicians. We're assumed to know the abbreviations (such as TSO). There's a pretty good chance that quite a few of the people at the conference don't know what UFB (Ultra-Fast Broadband) or RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative) is.

The Q&A session is almost as bad as the speech. The punch line to EVERY question is "I think we're going in the right direction". Questions around things that are concerning people such as the GCSB (Government Communication Security Bureau) is met with talk about it being necessary. Lance Wiggs presses Amy Adams and she starts to become ratty - "I don't want to comment too much on someone else's portfolio". Someone asks her a question around PRISM - there's an interesting comment about how they have a longstanding policy of not commenting on what the U.S. might or might not be doing. I find myself desperately wanting to hear that bit back again - how does this long standing policy play out in terms of issues like Dotcom?

The politicians I've heard talking over the last few NetHui's leaves me thinking fondly of David Cunliffe's speech in 2011 which had one of the most.... disengaging powerpoint presentations for a keynote ever. He was humble and engaged with the audience. The horrendous nature of his presentation was felt acutely after having watched and experienced the amazing energy generated by Lawrence Lessig.

That's what's missing and what I believe people are looking for. The people element. Rather than politicians either trying to push the virtues of their party (Clare Currren) or talking at people and not relating to them (David Shearer, Amy Adams) what people seem to be looking for is people. Being humble would go a long way to instilling confidence in a technical audience. Welcoming feedback rather than pretending to have all of the answers... This is basic stuff.

I can't emphasize this enough. You've got a room full of technology/internet specialists and the approach of the politicians to this in the last couple of NetHui's has been disappointing. Essentially, we're not looking to engage. You will take what you're given. Which creates a great big disconnect. Here are people talking about the future off the Internet and how it can be leveraged in direct conflict with politicians telling us what they're doing and why we should be happy about it.

Tomorrow is a "Parliamentary Internet Panel" - I'm dreading it. If it's anything like last year it'll be a whole panel of speeches much like Amy Adams' one - "Our party is great and we want to implement X, Y and Z. Vote for us".

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