Multicore NZ

February 12, 2009

Farming servers in NZ

Filed under: Models, Multicore — multicoreblog @ 8:12 am

Instead of “server farms”, it’s time to use the title accordingly in a country like NZ where farms are central to the economy.

But this is not the substance of this post. In fact, this is not a post with a new idea, it is a reflection of how ideas can be misused and misunderstood. And about how headlines can be confusing…

Last Monday I had the opportunity to meet with Andy Hopper in Christchurch. We had a friendly and very interesting conversation for a couple of hours, around many topics. This encounter came as consequence of his presentation in Wellington in a conference (see post).

Decided to make the most of our meeting, I did my homework about Andy: found several interesting sources but the best one is Andy himself: there are a number of podcasts here made by Alan Macfarlane.

In the plane back from Chch, processing all the good ideas that we discussed, I came through the latest edition of Computerworld NZ, with the following content:

“British computer pioneer Andy Hopper, the final keynote speaker at the Australasian Computer Science Week conference, came under fire from Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff for his frank predictions of a society where sensors monitor everyone’s energy consumption, and make graphically-presented data available on a public website. Hopper raises such strategies as one possible way of using technology to combat climate change and other threats to the environment. Schroff accused him of seeing such surveillance technology as “an ethics-free or moral-free zone”. Hopper was quick to deny this, saying his responsibility was to communicate future scenarios and open them up for discussion”.

I witnessed the Q&A session, together with a couple of hundred people: Ms. Schroff made a single question after the hour long presentation, and between at least 8 – 10 other questions, more related to realistic circumstances derived from the conference.

But this was enough for the press to title

Computer pioneer takes privacy broadside

Privacy commissioner takes issue with sensor-monitoring scenario

(and it was in the front page…)

So, all the good ideas presented are reduced at a title closer to a gossip magazine…

I found a similar example, but this one is slightly positive:

“The world’s computing power should be moved from desktop computers and company servers to remote outposts where renewable energy such as wind and solar power is abundant, according to a Cambridge University computer expert” (Andy Hopper). This appeared in The Guardian with the prudent title

Wind power urged for computers

Another site quoted the same notice, but was more creative with the title:

Will wind farms wed server farms?

Which is catchy without doubt…but still to the point…

So, why NZ press, even the technical one, is so focused in micro details that are magnified for the sake of selling news that no one will read seriously? Anyway, this is not a very creative post either, so I should concentrate in the title of my next post. Probably if I want more readers, I should title something like “Britney Spears doesn’t use Multicore”…

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