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Passing through Wellington

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 28, 2014  ·  Great places, Musings

I made it into Wellington yesterday afternoon and spent the evening on necessary domestics and eating in, given an apartment hotel albeit only for one night.   I had resolved to get out for a walk and see the sunrise over the harbour and had brought gloves along for that specific purpose but events conspired against me and I ended up with a early morning walk instead.   I really wished I had gone out earlier as there were orcas close to the shore half an hours walk ahead of me when I had to turn around.  I got some good photos though, to add to my many of Wellington Harbour over the years.   I first came here some five-teen years ago to speak in the Town Hall at a KM event and have enjoyed every visit since then.  

This is only a very brief visit, at one point it was going to be a week but then the side trip to Mendellin made that impossible.  Walk over I bought some merino clothes to replace those which went to the charity shop when they became too baggy, packed up for the 30 hour trip and headed off for a lunch time meeting with Roger Dennis and Wendy McGuiness.  I met Roger at a foresight event in Singapore and we got on, he brought in Wendy as he thought we would both value the link and he proved right.  Wendy introduced me to a youth constitution for New Zealand (which makes it a republic) and we had a long talk about citizen engagement, the need for young people to engage o politics the slowness of the Christchurch recovery and many other things in an all too short meeting.  It should lead to more co-operation downstream and I need to work on my engagement paper on the flight tomorrow.

The issue of how to engage people in a future of resource constraint with a growing population is of greater and greater importance and too few people are working on it, and of those who are not many are thinking radically about the way we do it.  We are about to launch a series of controlled experiments on creating real time sensor networks on a range of social issues.  However I am constantly frustrated but the one algorithm to rule them all and in the darkness bind them brigade who just want to interpret what is available on the web or monitor every key stroke and interaction.  I question this on ethical and practical grounds as it is limited and likely to be limited as protests from surveillance are likely to make many big data solutions more problematic.  Either way much more on that over the next few months.   

That meeting over I went on to run a seminar for the New Zealand Fire Service.  An interesting group who have to provide many other services as a general emergency response unit.  I hadn't realised that ambulances in New Zealand are all volunteer in nature and largely confined the the larger cities.  So there are issues on managing large networks of volunteers.   I always like working with uniformed personal as they get complexity pretty fast, they often welcome it as common sense informed by science while they have had to endure too much uncommon sense backed up my consultancy lead management fads.  I talked more than planned but that seemed to be what was wanted and the response was good.   More follow up there and I hope to be back soon,