net.wars: A resolution greatly to be wished

by Wendy M Grossman | posted on 09 January 2003

It takes about nine days of January to make New Year's resolutions and break them. So the feelings of failure should be hitting right about ... NOW.

Wendy M Grossman

The secret to New Year's resolutions – and there is one – is to sneak up on them. Plan on starting on yours for 2004 on December 26. In the meantime ... things are a little different in the business world, where people seem to set the New Year where they like. So I feel comfortable in proposing some New Year's resolutions for folks who still have time to sneak up on them.

First, of course, is GWB, Shrubya himself, for whom the year starts on January 20, the anniversary of his inauguration, a date followed in a month, give or take, by the State of the Union address. It's hard to pick a single New Year's resolution I'd like to see Bush adopt when there are so many, but if I'm picking one, it's to stop saying, "God bless America" every time he announces yet another tax cut that is going to benefit rich people at the expense of the rest of the country for the rest of the century, or when he wants to destroy the ecology of places like Alaska. It's just that it's so damn hypocritical. Can't he just say, "Screw you, America, except for my friends" and be honest about it?

Tony Blair, for whom the year starts in May (or at least, that's when elections are generally held in the UK), I'd like to see resolve to give up being teacher's pet. The teacher in this case being, of course, GWB. Tony, you can, you really can, give up doing everything someone more powerful than you are wants you to, especially in your own country. Even if you show some backbone, you can still be first among nations-who-are-friends-of-America. Who do you think is going to take your place? France? GWB has a problem with French.

Then there are the RBOCs – regional Bell operating companies – the folks who were created in 1984 by the break-up of AT&T. I'm not sure when their New Year starts, but I think they oughtta give up this madness of agitating to enter the long distance market. Hello? In another ten years there isn't going to be a long distance market. Revenues are going to collapse to zero except in wireless, and probably there eventually, too. I think these folks suffer from the Oedipal desire to kill their parent. Get over it, guys. Your parent is old. It could die anyway.

On the UK side, I'd like to see British Telecom resolve to really get broadband out there across the nation. No more stupid technical glitches that knock hundreds of people offline at a moment's notice; no more whining about opening the exchanges to competitors; no more dicking around with the goalposts for the number of villagers needed to sign up to get the exchanges converted for DSL. Otherwise, I'd like to see Blair's government make "broadband Britain" a reality by emulating the city of Long Beach, California and painting Britain with free 802.11b. Think of it as a threat.

Microsoft, for the New Year, could resolve to nurture a Really Big Competitor, so the Department of Justice will stop picking on it. Plus, it should resolve to give away one thing open-source. (I know that's two New Year's resolutions, but it's a big, cash-rich company.) Internet Explorer, say. Instead of just giving away the browser, it could give away the browser, just as kind of an indicator of good will and a real effort to see what it feels like. Maybe they'd like it.

Going back to politicians, I'd like to see David Blunkett, John Ashcroft, and Jack Straw resolve to watch more television. As in, first of all, imposing on themselves the regime they'd like to impose on the rest of us by being followed around 24/7 by camera-operating robots swallowing every scrab of available data. I think then every evening they should resolve to sit down and watch a long, slow replay of everything captured on those cameras in company with one thousand randomly selected members of the public who are free to publish their erroneous conclusions. If all goes well, that resolution should keep them from making any more public policy until 2004, by which time they might have a different viewpoint on "total information awareness."

All large businesses should resolve to emulate Henry Ford in increasing their workers' wages (so people can afford to buy their products, duh).

All my email correspondents: while I love hearing from you, I'd love it even more if you'd resolve to turn off the HTML for email (AOLers please note: yell at your ISP's lame software engineers).

Finally, my own New Year's resolution: to be more consistent about keeping abreast with the online news. (Yes, I know most people are trying to spend less time online, not more.) To this end, I'm trying out RSS newsreaders, and finding it's a huge advantage to be able to dip in and out of automatically updated mass media news services and blogs all in the same reader. So far, I've tried NewzCrawler and FeedReader and am inclining toward the former. Recommendations, anyone?

Happy New Year!

Wendy M. Grossman’s Web site has an extensive archive of her books, articles, and music, and an archive of all the earlier columns in this series. Readers are welcome to post here, at net.wars home, follow on Twitter or send email to netwars(at) skeptic.demon.co.uk (but please turn off HTML).