The great Fabian cock-up – or all’s well that ends well

barnraising_in_color_small.jpg

I was setting up to deliver my talk on open source software at the Fabian Society. I decided to throw caution to the winds and the switch to Vaudeville by staring off with the same scene from Witness – ‘raising a barn’ – that i began my original essay for policy with.

I’ll indulge myself by reproducing the prologue to my essay here.

Half way through Peter Weir’s “Witness” there is a barn raising. As Maurice Jarre’s synthesised monotones transform themselves into a symphony, so the lives of those we see are transmogrified into thing of simple and enduring utility, a monument to the miracle of human co-operation and endeavour.
Those viewers whose hearts have not turned to stone marvel at what they see. They have one of those moments when they wonder why life can’t be more like this. Perhaps some contemplate how to make it so. Then their reveries fade and they return once more to life in its fallen state.

The scene would be even more stirring if, once built, the barn would last forever, be freely available for anyone to use and to improve upon with those improvements being likewise available for any and everyone to enjoy. More stirring still if this was just the beginning, so that once the barn was raised self interested firms large and small were somehow drawn, quite freely into the same process of maintaining and further building it for their own, and the common good.

If all this came to pass who might try to stop the new methods? Those whose interests were threatened by them. And what better vehicle for them to use than the laws of the land both those that existed before the new methods proved their worth and new ones that lawmakers might be persuaded to introduce?

All this is happening in the world of open source software.

Anyway, as I was getting into the spirit of it all who should wander in – my friend and one of Australia’s best economic journalists – Tim Colebatch.

“How nice of him to come and listen to me” I thought and engaged a rather perplexed Tim as he tried to figure out what I was up to. Then it slowly dawned on me that I was replacing Tim who was to be in Singapore and so could not deliver his talk. And yet was Tim in Singapore? Well I don’t think it could reasonably have been said that he was. He was before me, wondering what I was doing setting up my laptop on what was surely to become his lecturn.

On the basis that it takes more than one real cock-up to convince me of anyone’s incompetence, I remain of the view that the Fabian Society is probably a well run organisation, but it did have a bit of a lapse this evening. Tim wasn’t too impressed since he’d come down from Canberra to give the talk.

So Tim gave an excellent talk on the medium term threats to our economy (which would have been even more excellent if he’d brought just a few overheads so all the stats he quoted could have gone more easily into our heads.)

And I’ve been rescheduled for October the 4th. I hope I see you there.   Stop Press: October 4th is now out.   I will keep you posted as to whether and when the show goes on.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ken Parish
Admin
15 years ago

“I remain of the view that the Fabian Society is probably a well run organisation”

You’re a generous man, Nicholas. I’d reckon they couldn’t organise a chook raffle in a pub.

Andrew Reynolds
15 years ago

Maybe they just needed a few Amish to build a barn next door so you could present it there.

Jason Soon
15 years ago

and to think that they manage to run the world, according to Mel Gibson’s old man …

Francis X Holden
15 years ago

Nic – with regard to OS and IP and copyright I’m sure you are aware of the UGG boot doco on TV somewhere tonight.

Some years ago there was a “barnraising” or whatever they call it on building a new church / hall for I think the SDA church in Waverly – I used to drive past it while they were at it – I think Blackburn Road – they whacked it up in a week or two working 24/7 – or possibly 24/6.

Daniel Barnes
15 years ago

Jason:
>…and to think that they manage to run the world, according to Mel Gibson’s old man “