We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

I’m pretty sure that a lot of people’s (by which I mean Government’s) assumptions about a ‘digital divide’ are a myth. I think they have visions of a bunch of poor, obese black kids sitting in a council house eating turkey twizzlers, cleaning their guns, just wishing for the day they could access this internet thing that people are talking about.

– a friend who works in local government in UK, responding to Social networks may subvert ‘digital divide’.

5 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Actually, I think it’s worse than that.

    Nobody (unless they are utterly can’t-tie-their- own-shoelaces thick – which is of course a possibility for people in government, I suppose) can seriously believe that computers (and broadband) are not universally affordable in the UK in 2008.

    You can pick up a pretty reasonable “web ready” machine for under a hundred notes (second user – I know, I’ve supplied enough). Web access is cheaper than spit. If you can’t afford to go online then you can’t afford to buy shoes and apart from hippie chicks (in Leeds?!) I ain’t seen to many folk wandering the streets barefoot recently.

    This is a cynical step by the government to attempt to gain control of the internet. Because make no mistake the ‘net scares the pants of them.

    But I could be wrong…

    I’ve met some dimwits working in the civil-service in my time. I mean people who couldn’t cut and paste Word docs and resorted to printing one off and then typing the whole think at one-fingered hunt & peck speed into the other document from the hard copy.

    My wife was once sacked from a temp job at Stockport Council because her 60wpm typing was showing up the demented old moo who “ran” the office. My wife’s final offence was using keyboard short-cuts. Half the office gathered round in astonishment at the power of [CTRL] [C].

    So I dunno. Maybe it’s malice and maybe it’s epic pignorance and quite possibly a mixture of both. I once temped for the Rural Payments Agency and the heady cocktail of malice, venality and dimwittedness was most certainly the drink of choice.

    I was constructively dismissed for, amongst other things, not liking biscuits. Having the nouse to rescue my Raybans from the Tyne and getting a little muddy in the process (what really pissed the bosses off about that was that I received a standing ovation from my fellow temps who thought those shades were lost for good), being a graduate, typing quickly but my real crime was working out a way to batch-print documents which I reckoned increased my efficiency 50%.

    This was a serious crime because the demented moos who ran the office were clocking-up epic amounts of overtime and most of it was spent shopping or on the phone (office phone, personal calls*). On many occasions they would forge time sheets and piss off to the MetroCentre shopping Mall for an entire afternoon and I mean from lunchtime to 7pm here. They could only claim ’till 7 because that’s when the office shut.

    *I have used office phones for personal calls. Short ones about important stuff: “I’ve been offered a bit of overtime so I won’t be back ’till 9″ kinda stuff. Not hour long “chats” about recent antics on Big Brother.

  • tookien

    Is access to spankmehard.com a Human Right?

    At least here in the States many libraries have internet connected computers for “free”.

    Nick, I have a small example similar to yours. I once applied for a job at the County level in my State (USA). While the interview was passable, it reached a point where they asked “why” I wanted the job and I remarked that I wanted to do an efficient and effective job for the taxpayers. To say the least they were bemused. It was plainly evident the taxpayers were the furthest things from their minds. It is amazing just how at every level of government we have clusters of mediocre (at best) people who survive off the ability to legally extract money from people. Now that’s not to say that some services aren’t done, but even IF something ends being effective by sheer luck, it is NEVER efficient. No concern whatsoever is given to the taxpayer, and at the very least there is ambivalence, at worst an antagonistic attitude.

  • ian

    I’ve never been sacked for it, but I reckon, like Nick M above, to have been a better and faster typist than most of the people allegedly employed to do so. I’ve gone on training courses for most office packages (Word/Excel/Access) and usually found the ‘advanced’ course painfully basic. Elitist it undoubtedly is, but if you have the temperament and intellect that is happy spending the day typing other peoples words you are unlikely to be the sharpest. The Peter principle(Link) then comes into play.

    I don’t think this is necessarily limited to the public sector however. Family and friends working in a range of businesses report similar attitudes and problems – malice, venality and dimwittedness seem unfortunately to be present in most businesses. Size seems to be a factor – the further away you are from the actual purpose of the enterprise the more likely it is that your time will be spent on subverting it rather than promoting it. Larger organisations are also more likely to be rigid hierarchies of the sort to which the Peter Principle applies. On the other hand many small businessmen I have come across seem pretty much incapable too. (The fact that many of them were politicians may of course had something to do with that.)

  • Sam Duncan

    You can pick up a pretty reasonable “web ready” machine for under a hundred notes

    Oh, a lot less. DeLi Linux will put a perfectly usable up-to-date desktop on a Pentium-class machine. If you can’t pick up one of those – or considerably better – for nothing, you ain’t trying.

    Turing code: 666646. Yikes!

  • n005

    If one shall not have anything that someone else might not, then what can one have?