JLP's 10 Point Plan for ICT

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Marc Gayle

Feb 17, 2016, 9:30:47 PM2/17/16
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There is a lot of high-level stuff here, some of which is quite vague...but there is some interesting stuff here.

Let me kick off this discussion by outline some of my thoughts:

  1. Collaborate closely with the new Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to broaden support for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), beyond just call-centre services, so employment opportunities for university graduates and professionals are expanded.
At first glance I recoiled, because of the incessant use of 'BPO' as a synonym for ICT. But, the more I thought about it, is the more I think this could be very interesting. For starters, I am not really a major fan of BPO as a growth industry for Jamaica over the medium-to-long term...primarily, because most of the stuff the BPO industry does will be replaced/significantly improved by automation over the next 2 decades. However, that led me to realize that if the primary focus is to drive economic growth, this could be quite beneficial on two fronts. One is, provides more short-term jobs which leads to economic growth and a general increase in the standard of living -- it helps the economy diversify away from Tourism and Bauxite. But two, and perhaps more importantly, if there is a more robust and diverse BPO industry, there is no reason that local software developers/entrepreneurs can't build the software that will replace many of the low-level BPO workers in a few years. That's where the major growth opportunity lies, I believe. Imagine if we develop the competence of what these large BPO clients need, and we can build software for them.....that could spawn a whole new industry. This could be huge for us. The first step is we need to develop the proficiency within BPO first, so that could be quite interesting.

  1. Repeal the 15 year old Telecommunications Act and replace it with a new ICT Act. Harmonize all relevant ICT legislation to ensure cohesion across the regulatory elements of ICT to create a more modern fit for purpose framework, including creation of a Single ICT Regulator.
Does this mean that we can finally enshrine net neutrality in law and develop a real regulator that has teeth to stand up to Digicel and any other telecom that may want to do any traffic shaping or anything else of that sort.

  1. Promulgate and pass into law: Data Protection, Data Privacy & Sharing Acts.
 This makes me a little concerned....because I think of CISOCA and other similar acts by the intelligence communities in the US....but who knows how this will pan out. We just have to watch it.

Those are my initial thoughts, I look forward to hearing what you guys think.

JJ Geewax

Feb 18, 2016, 7:38:55 AM2/18/16
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Same discussion is happening over on a FB group if people are interested. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/114051488653980/permalink/1027941650598288/)

Note, I can't vote. I'm not a citizen, I do pay taxes though. This is sort of like me shoving my nose where it doesn't belong saying "well... Apple should do X... but I don't work at Apple". Feel free to ignore this e-mail...

BPO (#5)
- The Economist recently predicted this is trending down :( Link
- TL;DR: Better automation -> less manual BPO work.

Net-neutrality (#7)
- Joe Matalon is the new chair of the OUR, I think he can balance "let's not be assholes to big companies" with "let's not let them fuck us over"
- Either way, it'd be great to get net-neutrality written into law.

Data protection, privacy, sharing acts (#8)
- I agree with Marc here.

e-Waste management policy (#10)
- This sounds un-glamorous, but important.
- If they can keep away from bureaucratic nightmare regulation, providing incentives to not throw old computers in the ocean or in a gully (I really hope we're not doing that today...), that sounds great.


The bigger issue is a broad one, and it's not specific to this list -- it's just a thing that tends to happen when you're not pushed to be more specific...

Items 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 have names but it's not clear to me what exactly someone is going to actually *do*. (Examples here are "Work closely with the MoE" or "introduce eHOME" or "broaden support for BPO"...)

If the government gave me a cheque for $1m USD today and said "Go do this", I'd have no idea what they wanted. I'm apparently supposed to... boost productivity...? somehow? with a home-office? How do we currently measure productivity? What is it today? 7.2? Luckily they aren't asking people like me to help and hopefully we'll hear from the experts soon about what these things actually mean.

As Marc hinted, it seems like 7, 8, 9, and 10 are specific and I agree these sound like good ideas. But they kick the can down the road since they still have to figure out what goes in those acts.

This list has, what sound like, a lot of good objectives -- big ambitious goals of things to get done -- however the end-results aren't clear to me... I know it's a short list, but "we'll introduce e-Home" is far off from "by the end of 2017, 1,000 workers will be working remotely with no negative impact on productivity or employee satisfaction, and a reduction of total overall recurring cost of employment (electricity, office space) by 5% per person".

Part of defining something you're going to do is defining how you're going to measure it, and governments are in the shittiest position ever, where their goals also have to act as marketing material.

To make things worse, since this game is played by pointing out broken promises ("look! he said he'd get 1,000 people employed from home! he only got 800!") rather than rewarding ambitious goals and 80% progress, the safe thing to do is be as vague as possible.

This morning I was wondering... what would this look like if it were a company...? Let's say Netflix.

- You can't opt-out. You *must* pay every year for your subscription.
- Every so often, you can vote for who the CEO and the VPs will be for the next few years
- There were two teams:
  - The Jobs team, following Steve Jobs' style of perfection at all costs, and
  - The Zuck team, following Mark Zuckerberg's style of move fast and break things.
- The Jobs and Zuck teams are far from best friends. They insult each other in meetings and probe each others' finances around voting time
- The choices aren't "winner-takes-all", but result in a mix where maybe the engineering lead was on the Jobs team, and the marketing lead was on the Zuck team, and they have to work together despite their differences.
- And there's a special "inner circle", that the CEO gets to pick, and will be all one team (Jobs or Zuck)

How likely are we to get a good experience from Netflix with this arrangement... ?


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Marc Gayle

Feb 18, 2016, 8:20:12 AM2/18/16
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Wow JJ, that last analogy is the perfect illustration of what is right and wrong about modern democracies. 

A combination of both teams could be awesome and produce great results (think Jobs and Woz as a more accurate illustration of my point), but it could also be disastrous -- see the current state of the US electoral process (with the reverse provisos JJ gave for Jamaica, applying to me in the US). 

Marc Gayle

JJ Geewax

Feb 18, 2016, 8:35:25 AM2/18/16
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Yea, easier to point out the problem than to fix it though :(

I have no idea how to give people a good Netflix experience, while making sure that every subscriber has a say into what they build or which shows they add, how much advertising is allowed, or what they can do with my watching history data. And that stuff is important!

I don't know how anything else would provide *reasonable* recourse in the case that Netflix acts like an asshole. I can only cancel my Netflix subscription by uprooting my entire life and subscribing to Hulu. And even then, despite being a paying subscriber, I wouldn't get to vote for the CEO and VPs of Hulu for a while.

And since you brought it up:

With the US (... and Eritrea...), after subscribing to Hulu, I keep getting bills for my Netflix subscription... Even though I never watch it... I only watch Hulu... There's no way to "pause" my Netflix subscription. And if I cancel it, I still pay the bill for the next 5 years, despite not being able to watch it during that time. And signing up for Netflix after switching to Hulu is really really tough.

Also subscribing to Netflix *and* Hulu (according to FATCA) apparently makes me a terrorist and/or money launderer, so I have to prove that I'm not by disclosing all the stuff I earn while subscribing to Hulu.

Wow, Netflix really seems like a jerk... :-/
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