Elephants, mosquitoes and the Corporations
As El Reg repeatedly points out, many IT-related breakthroughs were born in the UK only destined to die soon after. It still fills me with awe that the first ARM processor (and the first widely available RISC architecture) was designed on humble BBC Model Bs and in addition the first prototype chip did actually work. This for me represents a triumph of British technology (not to mention the Spectrum and BBC micro revolutions).
My relevant to the article point is that these platforms allowed literally everybody to produce open source (or open BASIC listing) code that was readily deployed in schools, research facilities (if you browse scientific journals of the 80's and 90's you'll see a lot of research done with BBC micros), even administration (first era of word processing in the UK). Since the advent of IBM-compatibles, the game was lost to The Corporation.
Unless UK administration (and any country's administration at that) sets effective financial disincentives and/or limits to IT-related infrastructure budgets in all public sectors, the UK will be bound to proprietary closed solutions forever. Why should a kid in school use Windows 7, Office 2011 and Photoshop CS5 to write a 1-page lab report? Why should a public service secretary use the same for writing a letter or printing an envelope? Why should a small company use Excel to just add 50 numbers for a bill of materials? And why should all of the above spend endlessly sums of money for antiviruses, updates, and repairs?
Everybody, especially the public sector, should use tools adequate for the specific job at hand, with the minimal long-term cost possible, and not use elephants to kill mosquitoes.
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