Everyday Computing, Features

The Shoulders of Giants

IN our quest to advance and make improvements, there is a particular mistake to be avoided. The mistake is assuming that we alone have the vision or answers, and even dismissing the opinions and contributions of others as insubstantial. This warning is particularly relevant, given the recent change in the ruling party in Saint Lucia, where the UWP scored a massive election victory. The natural, understandable, yet predictable temptation would be to gut everything that came before, and redo it in the new colour or style.

The challenge remains how we best avoid misguided attempts to “reinvent the wheel” and face the gravity of our shared problems with courage, resolve, and humility.

Even the scientific genius, Sir Isaac Newton, the philosopher who formulated the laws of motion and the theory of universal gravitation, modestly described his own achievements as a result of “…standing on the shoulders of giants.” Maybe we should be prepared to mirror his approach in dealing with our shared problems. You may easily detect when the required leadership and integrated thinking are in place if things are working well. The combined efforts of the entire operation of government would be noticeably better, humming like a well-oiled machine. Even better, an integrated approach to development would avoid the lopsided problem where a lone ministry or agency appears to outshine the others. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats!

Computer system designers usually approach a problem by considering a solution which builds on the existing platform of the people, the products, and the business environment, including the limitations. To this end, I contribute some suggestions that would help transform our society:
1) Reduce expenditure by investing in quality Open Source software;
2) Deploy an eCitizen App to report problems, leaks, potholes, etc;
3) Establish school coding clubs to teach kids to code;
4) Rollout inter-school broadband, eTextbooks, and whiteboards,
5) Establish incubation centres for ICT development.

These suggestions build on existing efforts, and the gains could help fund other activities such as online government services. In our local context, Newton’s giant represents an interwoven plan, a national development plan, that supersedes petty divisions and intersects the various sectors of our environment, society and economy. It involves the strategic thinking to see the big picture and get the most value from our efforts.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.
About the Author

Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, policy review, and capacity building.

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