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Written by David Brunnen   
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 10:37

Head of CommunicationsThe painfully slow over-extended dawn of realization may yet induce an angry reaction that fully reflects its brewing time.

Being let down is not that unusual.  Being let down gradually and consistently over two decades without it being blindingly obvious until we wake up ignites a tendency toward self-chastisement followed by overt rage against the ways of the world or the madness of the market, or the astonishing lack of political backbone and anyway ‘who the hell were those so-called experts?

Why did we not notice?   Why was nothing said?  Why did we listen – or maybe not listen?  Who made these emperor’s new clothes?   In our heads we hear the theme tune from the Magic Roundabout and mutter ‘What a way to run a railway’.

It was much the same with banks – and even now apologists find it difficult to explain why we let things drift so far out of control. Things can only get better? It turned out that things were steadily getting worse – and yet we held on to that hope and meekly obeyed the automated call centre injunction Please hold during the silence’.

But yet we surely know ‘the centre cannot hold’. The accumulation of clues and un-preparedness for the supposedly unexpected, slowly and gradually builds towards that flipping moment when the lights come on – like Leonard Cohen busted ‘in the blinding lights of closing time’.

For the banking crisis umpteen documentaries have tried to discover why the entire structure collapsed in on itself.   The subsequent calls for reform now seem bogged down in a long slog to find any silver lining in those clouds. The ‘middle way’ reform compromises seem as muddled and as likely ineffective as another ‘regulated’ sector’s ’functional separation’ – as if (in their dreams) they’d ‘discovered’ an ‘innovation’ that didn’t disrupt?

Sometimes it’s a ‘natural disaster’ – New Orleans like – that exposes the frailties of the system.  Sometimes the gulf between supposedly diamond geezers and common-sense seems unbridgeable – and the reckoning requires more than apologetic smiles to soothe or satisfy the dispossessed.

Sometimes the evidence for the prosecution builds so slowly that it never seems quite enough to justify invocation of the full force of common sense.  Individually and collectively we consider the cost – the risk of speaking out or the complexities and delays of an official enquiry – and in this balancing act we so often choose another cliched construct, turning a blind eye, sweeping under carpet, looking the other way, kicking into the long grass, or just mass market shoulder-shrugging.  There is no shortage of popular substitutes for five minutes thought.

For those who monitor these things the ‘clue-rate’ has accelerated over the past four weeks - each one adding another tiny tension but not yet aggregated into wholesale aggression. The lid may have blown in North Africa and the Middle East but here at home reaction to Ofcom’s latest report excited none but the weariest of networked nerds. The global stats highlighted the UK’s enterprise infrastructure investment failure – neatly coinciding with ‘surprise’ low economic growth data – but did not hit the headlines. Even ministerial aspirations – directed very much towards the media – have not been understood to suggest any great cause for concern. No need to panic then - leastways not yet.

So, on this fine Spring morning, we slumber on. The wake-up call has not yet been heard. It will be another fine day. We will all be busy enough trying to make ends meet – inventing ever-more ingenious ways to get around the unspoken reality of inadequate enterprise infrastructure - trying to cope, not realizing that we have one or maybe both hands tied behind our backs.

Have a good day.



This editorial was written for the Communications Management Association - whose members spend over £13Bn per annum on networked products and services.

Readers of this editorial also viewed 'Innovation Infrastructure' and 'On-line from Milan'.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 07:52

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