UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

“Britain Faces Worst Year Since 1930s”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Jan 2009

Britain Faces Worst Year Since 1930s, warns IMF” screams an article on the front page of today’s Guardian.  It seems that that the International Monetary Fund has warned Britain that it will be at the bottom of the league table of major developed countries this year.

And although many will share a feeling of optimism at the recent political changes in the US, here in the UK we can’t blame Thatcher for this one.  And we can’t even blame Tony Blair – after all, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer for all those years?

So what does this means for our networked services? What does it mean for those Web 2.0 services many of us know and love?

It now seems a long time since I used the line “People say Google may go out of business, but banks could also go out of business. But we don’t put our savings under the mattress just in case this happens “. That later evolved to “People say Google may go out of business, but, as we know, banks also go out of business. But we don’t put our savings under the mattress as we know this has happened“.  Should we now be saying “Google services have gone out of business – look at Jaiku, for example.  I’ve already moved my data to the safety of my institution.  You’re foolhardy if you don’t do likewise.“?

Well if you work at London Metropolitan University you’re probably more concerned about the sustainability of your own position and your institution rather than Britain’s economic woes.  As described on the UCU Web siteLondon Metropolitan University has recently had a cut of £18 million in its teaching budget and HEFCE has confirmed that it intends to ‘claw back’ £38 million in past funding as a result of inaccurate returns on student completion rates“.

But to shrug our shoulders and say “we’ll all doomed – not just economically, but also with global warning” is a defeatist attitude I don’t go along with.

I’ll be giving some thought about what I think we should be doing (in the context of  exploiting Web 2.0 service to support the aims of our institutions). But I’d welcome suggestions from others? Are any institutions making any strategic decisions in this area? After all, we were warned about the implications  for higher education last August by HEFCE’s John Selby.

6 Responses to ““Britain Faces Worst Year Since 1930s””

  1. ajcann said

    Be pragmatic. Maintain backups. Use the best possible service available but keep alternatives in mind. Plan exit strategies. None of this is new, this has always been best practice with Web2.0 services.

  2. Don’t put your eggs into a basket which is hard to get ’em out of. Can you export your data? If not – avoid.

    Don’t believe in pounds worth of service for pennys. Jason Scott says it in fairly… robust language in his Cloud post

    By the cloud, of course, I mean this idea that you have a local machine, a box running some OS, and a vital, distinct part of what you do and what you’re about or what you consider important to you is on other machines that you don’t run, don’t control, don’t buy, don’t administrate, and don’t really understand. These machines are connected via the internet, and if you have a company then these other machines are not machines run by your company, and if you’re a person they are giving it to you without you signing anything accompanied by cash or payment that says “and I mean it“.

    Can I be clearer than that? It’s a sucker’s game. It’s a game suckers play. If you are playing it, you are a sucker.

  3. Of course, we have some level of protection from banks going bust and taking our money with it – indeed we’ve recently found out how far the government will go to avoid a bank going bust – and even without this intervention, there is standard protection up to a certain amount.

    Perhaps we need to see this kind of cover for data services?

  4. Tom Franklin said

    and how many services has your institution turned off at one time or another without a full migration strategy?

  5. Martin Morrey said

    Of course we can blame Thatcher.

    During the 1980’s she and her colleagues deregulated financial services, easing consumer access to credit, enabled demutualisation of historically stable building societies, all of which are now are bust and/or taken-over, and saddled us with a de-industrialised warehouse economy, ridiculously reliant on the financial services industry to keep an endemic balance of payments defecit in check. Because of the short-term popularity of many of these policies, in the context of a consumer-lead economy intrinsicly built on debt, it was politically impossible for Labour to commit to rolling back these changes, if it wanted a chance of regaining power in the short term.

  6. […] posts on “Who Is Suffering In The Economic Downturn?“, “Britain Faces Worst Year Since 1930s” and “Is It Really A Good Time To Be Asking For More IT Money?” touched on the […]

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