Sunday, June 12, 2005

Dumb is as dumb does

It is becoming clearer by the day that the POSIWID of technology is to make institutions that really ought to know better look pretty dumb. From the White House and Westminster to Wall Street and the City, our political and financial rulers fall for the technobabble every time.

The Reagan/Bush I/Bush II Star Wars anti-missile defence system is the standout example of dumb government announcements. Up there with it now is Alistair Darling’s satellite and transponder-in-car road pricing plan.

Hushed-up failures of the UK passport office system and the courts system from the recent past and the NHS system from today reflect on-going dumbness. In the US they’ve quietly dropped their post 9/11 deadline for unworkable techno-biometric passports to protect airlines’ cashflows.

Think up some outlandish application, get its craziest aspects announced as government policy and billions of taxpayer-pounds are yours in a jiffy. There's no need to worry about delivering on these dumb promises since the announcement is its own POSIWID and the next one will be along shortly. (Risk management might never have existed.) And besides, everybody knows that if you want any real work doing the first thing you need is people who are interested in doing things rather than in announcing things.

Which brings us to Wall Street where Google shares are trading at a P/E ratio based on their next twenty-five years’ gross income. Bubble dumb is here again.

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