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shoddy service in the information economy « Previous | |Next »
November 24, 2003

I'm very annoyed. I'm been down in the holiday shack on the South Coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. The internet service is appalling compared to broadband in Adelaide. We are not on the technological frontier here; nor is that frontier being customised to the needs of users and investors in this particular place. There is little innovation at the local or the regional level.

It's dial-up internet in the shack. It is very slow (around 29 bhps); it keeps on dropping out; it cannot handle working in a visual culture; and it cannot handle the data flow of music feeds which I need to prevent the access being cut off by the ISP for inactive use after 5 minutes.

I have been without access to the internet for around 18 hours--from 2pm yesterday. It was either the server being down, or Internet Explorer jamming up. Either way it is a shoddy service and an indication of the flaws of the free market.

It should be better than this, given the coastal seachange is giving rise to a new culture or way of life that is different from the rural one of the 19th century and the urban/suburban one of the 20th century.

South Australia being a part of the information economy is a joke in which innovation is the key driver for the economic development. You know the buzz words: the new economy; entrepreneurs driving prosperity; knowledge-induced growth; the digital economy; the learning society; progress as technological change and creative destruction; strong regional clusters of core technologies around which innovation and economic activity takes place; the space time nexus, shifting to a new techno-economic paradigm etc etc.

The State Government says it is trying to catch the wave of the Internet and of digital technologies and creating the conditions for an IT boost to regional economic development. It's hype that apes the US. Even though computers and the Internet are changing the way we act and interact, we in Australia are pretty much users of IT technology and not producers of it. We in Australia are not challenging the pre-eminent position of the US in techno-science innovation.

From my experiences over the weekend the productivity gains from IT and the Internet are overhyped. A magic wand is being waved here. The gains are made by the IT producing forms in the US--Cisco, Microsoft, Dell, Oracle, IBM, Apple. These productivity gains are not spilling over into the rest of the Australian economy despite its increasing integration with the US one.

It is much better to think in terms of knowledge-based industries as this brings in biotechnology and health and policies to build systems of innovation and competence building. The focus then shifts to the quality of human resources the activities and incentives orientated towards the generationn and diffusion of knowledge and the institutional framework of the market and civil society.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:04 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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