I RUN A LIGHTWEIGHT email client on my Nokia E90 (at left, shot last year with no email burden evident) and occasionally test other messaging applications that involve email. After an abortive attempt to push my mail to my phone via Nokia Messaging early this year, I removed the application but a troublesome artefact remained. I had at least 20 MB of mail headers that remained on my mail server and instead of purging any of the old stuff, Squirrel Mail kept the old headers intact and sometimes duplicated them. The 20 MB in February became 85 MB in July. This meant my phone had to flick through hundreds of mail headers before updating my local phone's email system. All that time equated to data on O2-Ireland and more critically, those mailbox updates really killed me while roaming in the States a few months ago. The Helpdesk staff at Well.com asked me to purge my headers. When I told them to kill all remnants on the mail server, my mailbox suddenly went to zero, taking with it a dozen unopened emails. I don't remember where most of them originated. But I trust that anyone who really wants to contact me urgently knows that I have more than one way of answering a question. There's Twitter, for example. Or Facebook for fun, LinkedIn for business. Or a comment to this blog. All of those channels have proven more effective than email in my current life.
SITTING INSIDE AN educational establishment that has been targeted for closure by the Public Expenditure Review Committee (aka An Bord Snip Nua), I'm interested in the experts who formed the recommendation to close Tipperary Institute. Fintan O'Toole names five of the fine people who formed the committee charged with reducing Ireland's deficit. The committee members "exemplify the nexus of high-flying civil servants, corporate tax advisers, light-touch regulation and financial juggling that has helped" to expand the Irish economy to the teetering edge of bankruptcy. O'Toole unpacks the backgrounds of each of these key committee members to make the point that "they come from an extraordinary narrow range of backgrounds and embody a set of instincts and orthpdoxies that are, to put it midly, problematic." They would not have attended a classroom and done hands-on creative media work like the two students at left.
ON TUESDAY, JULY 20, 1999, I was wandering around with dozens of friends in the Lobo Club of the Morrison Hotel. You had to wear black to get into the place. Barry O'Neill was there, wearing something pink on his black top. It was a meet-u of the trendiest cross-section of Dublin's cultural and corporate glitterati and only a few people knew what was on. But who cared? With free champagne, excellent finger food and good laughs, a lot of us thought it was going to be something related to DJ Paul Webb who was playing that evening. It turned out toe be the launch party for Rondomondo, Eircom's ill-fated online publishing venture. I will always remember is as the high-water mark of Ireland's dotcom excess. Two years later, Rondomondo was written off as a EUR 50m loss by Eircom. And right behind that company came dozens of others, some employing 100 people, as the dotcom industry flopped, tossing Oniva, Nua, and Ebeon into the scrapheap of history. In the meantime, a few of my friends started coding for a hostel booking engine and that evolved into Web Reservations International, now worth more than EUR 200m. And quietly along the side, Kevin Greene rolled his Cold Fusion code into eastern Europe, spawning AnotherFriend in languages not normally heard in his hometown of Limerick.
Things have changed in 10 years.
EVERY DAY, my Inside View blog sends email directly to my phone from people asking questions arising from a handful of the 5000 blogs posts that I've created on it since July 2003. I treat some of those emails as evidence that I've earned the trust of readers, even though many of the requests come from people who have visited for fewer than two page views. The most common questions concern software updates. Some questions ask me for feedback about Nokia Maps (at left), the one expense that my phones seem to make automatically when I travel.The most unusual questions delve deep into some keys I still have from underground structures in the UK and Germany. I try to write most of my things in a common voice but I know many of my blog posts deviate into the arcane. So I try to blend Twitterspeak into some of my thoughts. When I'm successful, the blog post will drop onto Facebook where it picks up more interest and often sparks a virtual relationship. I'd like to think I could convert some of this online trust into solid results for my employer, a third level college that offers a well-vetted BSc in creative multimedia. After a summer of thinking about this challenge, I believe I'm at the point of joining a group blogging effort that tries to pique the interest of parents and teachers, recognised influencers of the next generation of digital creatives.
Nearly 15,000 people have seen this Nokia N95 photo.
SEVERAL IRISH broadsheets are warning on their front pages of restrictions to travel and closed academic classrooms. Check-ins for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic at Heathrow have been instructed to turn away those thought to be infected. Some countries, including Thailand, Egypt and China, have installed thermal body scanners to identify contagious passengers.  But what if those passengers were rejected by British arrivals staff and then told to return home? If they look ill, they won't get a seat on BA or Virgin. In Ireland, several third level institutions expect outbreaks once students return from overseas destinations and return to classrooms.  I would feel more confident about these planning steps if I knew those universities had already a system like Online Meeting Rooms tested and ready to roll. In Tipperary Institute, we are test driving such infrastucture, attempting to validate a way to connect 80 students at a time to an online two-way channel.
I'm reading Scott Rosenberg's Say Everything at the moment and believe he's got the right take when he puts blogging into the mix of online conversation by pointing out how there needs to be a core of bloggers writing down things that can trickle into a meaningful lifestream. In my realm as a third level lecturer, blogging connects people in relationships that lead to jobs, often by motivating students to stay with the programme as they develop higher levels of proficiency in both design and programming.