In praise of Wiki New Zealand

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 7.55.16 PMHats off to the team behind Wiki New Zealand, an exciting project to make data about our country accessible and understandable. The site is packed with graphs, charts and maps, all of them clean and clear.

It’s already a fabulous resource. No doubt schools can make great use of it. And as a journalist I’ll be checking facts there.

Wiki’s were a big deal five or six years ago. They are a great way to share data, particularly when people collaborate. Since their peak, wikis have fallen out of favour, mainly because many people find them difficult to use.

The good news is the Wiki New Zealand team seem ready to do all the hard work, so if you want to contribute, it’s a matter of handing over raw information and not knocking it into shape.



Google’s NZ digital expert plan, not what it seems

Google NZ scored favourable publicity for its 'training plan' but it isn't philanthropy

Google NZ scored favourable publicity for its ‘training plan’ but it isn’t philanthropy

Hats off to Tony Keusgen and Google New Zealand for training recent graduates in the art of helping companies with online strategies. It may help ease smaller businesses into the online world ahead of the UltraFast Broadband roll-out.

Keusgen announced the plan to train 100 people at the recent Telecommunication Carriers Forum Mind Storm conference in Auckland.

He told delegates at the event the UFB network on its own will not get local companies moving online – partly because there aren’t enough people with the right skills serving smaller companies. He has a point.

The plan isn’t what it seems to be.

Google’s two-day training course will give people Google+ certification. The course details show it is about selling the company’s AdWords product.

In other words, it is not general training in online strategies, but training in using Google products and services to offer those online strategies. In other words it will bind 100 young people into Google’s world and by extension will make it easier for Google to sell to the thousands of companies they will consult to.

There’s nothing wrong in this. Nothing at all. Technology companies provide training to help customers and others buy things from them all the time. The products and services are complex. Sales people can’t whizz through these things in five minutes.

While there’s nothing wrong with it, it is not philanthropy. It is business development.

Yet that’s not how Google sold itsmessage to the Mind Storm audience and it is not how the media reported it. See The New Zealand Herald and at Radio New Zealand.

Can Dotcom kickstart NZ tech?

Management magazine wonders if Kim Dotcom’s Auckland-based Mega start-up can transform  New Zealand’s economy (dead link):

Behind Dotcom’s showman public persona – a flamboyant style that undoubtedly grates with Kiwi conservatism – there’s a very smart, very tight business unit with the ability to go from world-class concept development to start-up, and massive scale-up very fast.

Mega is impressive. It has a core team of just four people and by Kim Dotcom’s estimate accounts for around 4% of internet traffic. There’s probably some hype in that number. Even so, an NZ-based business accounting for 1% of traffic would be a huge achievement.

New Zealand is too remote and has too few cable connections to the rest of the world to become an international online destination. But that’s not the only way to make money from the internet.

Dotcom has already breathed fire into the NZ technology sector. He will inspire others to follow in his path. Hopefully a cluster of local companies will form to piggyback off Mega’s products and services and possibly use his name and reputation to help raise investment funds – New Zealanders have difficulty raising start-up finance.

Disclosure: I’ve written a feature about Big Data for Management and will be contributing stories to the magazine.