It really bugs me how everyone around me (kids and wife getting back into schooling during lockdown) is constantly talking about "Zoom" this or that... I run/take part in video conferences every day but haven't used Zoom (or any other proprietary service) in well over a year.


We're indoctrinating our entire population into thinking that they can't function without the miracle (**spits) of Zoom/MS Teams/Google Hangouts/Webex, etc. Well, that's bullshit. Talk about sowing learned helplessness & foreign corporate dependence. Why aren't our national educational authorities (yes, NZ Min of Ed, looking at you) organising a far more cost-effective, proven, *local* services for education, like using BigBlueButton? They have *no idea* what they're doing with regard to tech.

If our Min of Ed invested in this on a national level, I'm supremely confident that they'd save money, in addition to removing a major contributor to trade imbalance, and breaking a dependence on foreign organisations, a threat to NZer privacy & sovereignty, & improve the tax take (services would be provided by NZ-based companies & individuals, subject to NZ tax!) . Moreover, it'd increase skills in NZ's tech industry, create good jobs & allow NZ learners an active role in their own education.

@lightweight because lazy. It's a known solution they can "roll out" with the least effort. I mean, none.
It makes me angry also.

@swansinflight yes - and it's doing such a disservice to our kids, our domestic industry, our trade balance, and our sovereignty & privacy. Yeah, their thinking is fundamentally flawed.

@swansinflight they had time to come up with a better solution since last year. But they didn't. Because they don't have a single person on staff who's capable of making an informed decision, even though they *exist* to be educators. They seem to have zero motivation to seek out knowledge. I don't respect that attitude.

@lightweight correct. Though, surely the point would be to hire someone in an IT field to sort this out, like it's literally not an educators job to know this stuff? I feel like they'd just go the usual MS route though anyway, because salepeople freakn everywhere.. mmm. Dunno.

@swansinflight yep. However, last lockdown, we (the NZOSS) told them about BigBlueButton - they even have it on their fricken website as a resource... but they didn't even investigate it. Not a peep. Not even trying. We need more people in gov't decision making roles who, like me, revile all the US tech multinationals and refuse to use their products. That'd easily be the best approach for all of NZ. No question about it.

@lightweight yes but usually the same people that revile politics and govt, so.... 🙁

@swansinflight and yes, our gov't needs to take a LOT more notice of vested/pecuniary interests of people it consults. I think the NZ gov't is effectively corrupted by its indifference.

@lightweight I couldn't agree more. Especially the curent one.

@swansinflight I'm afraid there aren't any 'good' politicians in that regard. The only party whose values I admire are the Greens, although, with a few exceptions, their capabilities competence is in question. I have zero time for any of our conservative politicians (National/ACT/New Conservatives/etc.).

@swansinflight should've been an & between capabilities & competence :)

@lightweight hmm I like a lot of what ACT stands for, greens seem inept and lacking understanding from what I’ve seen. At the moment I’m trying to ignore politics as that shit just makes me angry in general and I can’t do anything about it until the next election.

@lightweight - Some of it is purely political. Like to encourage a company to open a branch, or getting paid to lobby for a product, etc.
I recommend (if not already) read the story of Munich city council yo-yoing between Windows and Linux.

@kasra_mp Yes, I'm familiar with the Muenchen story - last I heard, the new mayor issued the edict that the city would switch away from Linux, back to Windows after Microsoft moved its DE headquarters to the only city *not* using its software. It points to substantial gov't corruption (funded by Microsoft). Not a good look for Germany.

@kasra_mp although, to be fair, most countries are similarly corrupt - see, for example, my home country:

@lightweight - one thing that everybody across the globe agrees on is politicians (by large margin) are corrupted.
IMO good ones just haven't caught yet 😃

@lightweight I agree with this but I think it is equal parts branding by corporates and overwhelm with too many options.
As someone very interested in privacy, foss and decentralisation, I find I have multiple apps for communication but still end up using the main corporate modes most of the time as ‘normal people’ don’t/won’t explore other options.

@alpinefolk we who understand this stuff need to protect others from their paralysis of indecision. We can do that by refusing to use those proprietary US corporate technologies. If we don't, and capitulate, we're not only losing ourselves, but we're helping others be exploited... and we're similarly engaging in avoidance behaviour. We need to be willing to ruffle some feathers to make the world undeniably better.

@alpinefolk as I see it, at the moment, 'normal people' is modern parlance for 'serfs' in a fiefdom in which they have no standing. They rely on free handouts, and have no part in the discussion among the power brokers. It's why I say we're in the midst of a digital Dark Age...

@alpinefolk the only way we can achieve a new enlightenment... is for those of us who are equipped to recognise the situation (not many of us) stand up work towards helping the disenfranchised to a) recognise that they are (they don't, by and large), and b) show them the path. It's about 90% a question of attitude and cultural inertia. We have to nurture a deep distrust and disdain for corporate influence and their 'free' services.

every other nation is doing what they now choose. there is not enough actionable data with bigbluebutton involved.

(at least, that is somewhat the response my nation gives as to why they subscribe to zoom, teams etc.)

funny thing is some government techs implemented bigbluebutton and it was much more efficient with bandwidth consumption.

@lightweight same here in #Cymru #Wales

Worse, we are embedding dependency by considering our young people as skilled if they can use these platforms, without an awareness of understanding about the consequences or the #opensource counterfactual

@davidoclubb @lightweight Good point. Another place to watch for is the "Everyone can code" initiatives in schools, where the trap might be proprietary tools on proprietary platforms. e.g., Visual Studio writing Windows programs. Big corporations with vested interests will provide the tools for free and already set up as a VM image.

It is my fourth week at MoE and I have already pointed out to more than one person that designing a system that *requires* 'the public' to pay a fee to a US multinational in order to interact with their elected governments institutions invalidates the Ministry's focus on equitable outcomes for all...

They may stop inviting me to meetings soon :-)

@carl_klitscher fight the good fight, Carl. We need you to win, not those threatened by your superior grasp of reality and their own rules.

To be fair, most of the people I've dealt with so far are very aware of the issues and there is a significant amount of Open Source software being used within the environment.

There are a couple of challenges though... the first being the incredibly tight integration of MS Teams... it has just enough of everything in one place for people to interact irrespective of location to the point where no-one even questions it... and you can't just replace bits of it with alternatives!

The downside of that is that when part of it breaks (and it does) it all breaks and everything grinds to a halt... and then there are the security issues... but those negatives still haven't hit the majority of users yet. Unless we can generate an integrated FOSS package to match we are going to be struggling with that one.

The second issue is around license packages... currently I have software package 'X' that can be deployed on Windows or RHEL and the decision was to run it on windows 'because the license was free' (in the no cost sense)... I've pointed out that there is still a charge but the windows license is absorbed by MoE whereas the RHEL license is carried by the project... pure accounting drivel but that is how this stuff is costed out.

I need an accountant to tell me how to get round that one!

@carl_klitscher we need to demonstrate how gov't is cross-subsidising expensive stuff ruining the digital ecosystem just as surely as dairy farmers are ruining the analogue one: by not being held responsible for the real cost of their actions. We need to show them that their accounting games have real repercussions, not the least of which is a) making us completely hostage to US corporate interests, and b) strangling our domestic IT industry. Both are total disasters for NZ's future prosperity.

@carl_klitscher that's the thing. It's gov'ts and agencies that need to coordinate to build those things. No one has either the means or the motivation. Gov't should pay for it - if they do, they'll still save money. But we need to show them why their bet on Microsoft, FB, Google, SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Salesforce, & ESRI, etc. is a big fat loser. It'll happen eventually, because of the odds.

@carl_klitscher But many will suffer as a result. If they listen to us beforehand, they can hedge against total disaster.

@carl_klitscher no. All you can do is teach them to be suspicious of the very foundations of their entire (edi|arte)fice. Microsoft is not a trustworthy partner. We need to show people who, to date have been blithely indifferent, the ample evidence of that.

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