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Digital Ireland

What’s good about “good” Friday?  It’s a day off to catch up.  It’s a day to read yesterday’s newspaper. It’s a good day.

Yesterday’s Indo carried one of their regular Digital Ireland supplements.  Today, over a nice coffee in a nice coffee shop (with free wireless connectivity!) I get to sit down and read it. It’s done me the world of good (see, there’s that “good” again).  I genuinely feel more confident that Ireland can pull itself out of current difficulties.  Here are a few of the more interesting elements –

  • “Ireland is rapidly becoming the “Internet capital of Europe”.  John Kennedy reminds us that we are now home to the international HQ of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ebay.  Many are now expanding their operations here. Yes, there is concern that we don’t have the communications infrastructure to support this as much as we might like but progress is being made.  E-Thursday (page 6 of the business supplement of the Indo) carries an interview with Eircom and its plans for 8Mbps for one million users by the end of the year.
  • Mobile innovation continues to evolve.  There are a quarter of a million iPhones in the country. That’s a lot of smart phones and doesn’t even include the smartphones of Nokia, Samsung and others.  Lots of potential for interesting apps.
  • Facebook claims to have 1.4 million users in Ireland.  That’s one third the population, give or take.  Yes, I facebook (you can always judge the popularity of something by its “verb”alisation).  Am I bothered by the fact that 1 in 4 schoolkids have hacked its others’ facebook accounts?  Answer = not really.  I’m reasonably choosy about who my friends are. I don’t put anything personal up there. If I want to say something confidential I do so more privately. Facebook is a really powerful way of keeping up with what’s going on with friends, particularly those I might risk losing touch with otherwise.
  • Finding information remains the number one priority of net surfers (47% of respondents), with interaction and communication coming in second (32% of those surveyed).  These are from a UK study and I Imagine Irish statistics would likely be similar. Facebook and Twitter fit both requirements very nicely. Is it any wonder then that more and more commercial organisations are embracing them?  The wonder is that there is still so much opposition in some quarters. Page 2 has an interesting account of how Lincolnshire police are using social media (facilitated by Dublin software organisation pTools) to police their jurisdiction.
  • In the online world your presence is only as good as your website permits it to be.  Despite well over a decade of good practice building, web design continues to be a problem.  “Vanity Publishing” is the term used – your website screams about how good your designers are at animation, how your CEO has perfected the beaming smile, how your navigation is clear as mud. The problem is that good web design is subjective. One person’s navigation minefield is another’s well sign-posted routeway.  Web design needs to be done with a specific target audience in mind. If your potential customers hate your flash intros you have a problem. If they find them quirky and fun then flash it is.
  • is well worth checking out and merits an significance portion of the supplement. There is a strong incentive to change mindsets and realise that concrete efforts must be made to “roll up our sleeves and start innovating”.  Concrete examples are given, most notably the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC). They have recently announced their LaunchPad, an incubation space for start-ups, complete with expert mentoring and advising. Successful projects quoted seem to revolve around mobile apps, and there seems to be a strong commercial aspect to most of the ongoing projects.
  • Digital21 and all the innovative ideas coming through the supplement emphasise the importance of an educated workforce.  Key actions are encouraging science and honours maths at leaving cert level.  The reality in education is very different. More and more schools are dropping science subjects in a necessary reaction to education cut-backs. The leaving cert will continue to be a ‘points’ race with little emphasis on content or any depth of thought on that content unless it can be radically over-hauled. Efforts at Digital Ireland need the support of other aspects of the Irish economy if they are to succeed.
  • Page 5 of the supplement is devoted to the viewpoints of “Ireland’s ICT leaders”.  Of the 10 “leaders” only 1 is female. The entire supplement carries a total of 42 mugshots, only 5 of which are women.  Technology continues to be a male-dominated arena.  Why is that? Why is technology, like gangster movies, seen as the preserve of the male?  Are there still nerd associations?   A lack of female role models in technology doesn’t help (though here’s an exception).

There you go, folks, nothing from me for ages, and then you get 839 words in one shot. It really is a good Friday.


Get with the program

Haven’t the foggiest how I stumbled across this but it’s interesting and builds on the recent posts in here.

(the creator, Aurcaen, doesn’t seem to like embeds)

I love the maze example. The typical, expected, tried and tested method of getting through a maze are ditched and instead the as-the-bird-flies method is chosen and why not? After all, where is the rule that says this isn’t allowed? And you get to knock down a few walls on the way!

Do students believe everything they see / read?   I’m not convinced it’s as black-and-white as this.  I think many do form their own opinions but they might struggle to discuss and critiques them in the depth to which their instructors would like them to.

Where did the syntax for text messaging come from? Who originated it?  Something I hadn’t thought about but you must admit it’s a creative solution to the challenge of getting a message across using as few characters as possible and so save some cents.

All in all, the vid points out the fact that students are forging ahead in preparing themselves for their future. We, in education, have a role to play. By not embracing modern technology, innovative communication methods, allowing students to practice the softer skills of negotiation, interactivity, managing company culture, etc, we might be depriving them of something valuable in that future.