Intelligent Government.

Funny Aussie US Translation for Americans and Australians

Here in sydney we are uniquely connected to most major cultures in the world as a result of years of overcoming geographic  isolation and also managing our immigration in a fairly haphazard manner.

What could be perceived as a structural disadvantage or government policy failure has actually ended up being fairly good to the extent that we now have an awesomely connected and multi-cultural society.

Arguably the best connected axis is the UK since we drew our first settlers (after the original indigenous Australians of course) followed by strong links with Asia (for example the gold rushes over a century ago) and also North America. This is before we consider the specific cultures of Europe (particularly Mediterranean countries) and the old French Empire and of course specific strong corridors of trade and immigration like South East Asia.

So we are fortunate to have as a result around 150 languages widely spoken here on the East Coast of Australia. At the same time 61% of the people on the internet are in our timezone (and 68% on the West Coast) both of these numbers are arguably the highest of any country/continent in our categories of development, education, economic strength, quality of life and force of law.

It is fun to highlight a little of our simple differences since we have to work with so many different cultures.

Here is a great primer on language differences. It is fairly informative and also pretty funny.

I am going to share this with our international offices at Freelancer.com and try and find equivalent videos for the AU-UK, AU-EU, AU-CN and AU-SEA corridors that are also fun and informative. Feel free to add them in the comments if you know any.

It is a great primer for anyone doing international business especially tech startups, students or anyone planning to travel.

Bill Gates On The Limits of Capitalism

‘The market does not drive the scientists, the communicators, the thinkers, the government to do the right things. And only by paying attention to these things, and having brilliant people who care and draw other people in, can we make as much progress as we need to make.’ – quote from Bill Gates

With thanks to Business Insider Australia.

Pete Cooper’s ESS Review Submission

Pete Cooper’s ESS Review Submission

My personal submission to the government ESS Review based on the various initiatives, accelerators, educators etc… I am involved in across the Australian and regional tech and tech enabled startup ecosystem.

There are 33 recommendations across 7 categories to make Australia more effective!

Feedback and comments are very welcome.

Startups 101 – Pete Cooper Speaks At Customs House

I spoke recently to a few hundred people at Customs House in Sydney CBD down near Circular Quay, a gorgeous old sandstone building.

If you know anyone that is learning or just entering the tech startup space in Australia this playlist is a MUST WATCH.

The City Of Sydney (CoS) Lord Mayor Clover Moore introduced the program of professional tech startup industry experts –

  1. Pete Cooper – SydStart
  2. Riley Bachelor – GA
  3. Kim Heras – PushStart
  4. Melanie Perkins from Canva

The genesis of the night was a startup round table of 20 leaders called by the City of Sydney strategic development unit lead by Andrea and Charnelle after our chats earlier in the year. This unit has the rare skill of planning up to 20 years in advance which is great to see but I wouldn’t want that challenge…

The round table was chaired by City of Sydney CEO Monica Barrone who has been a steady supporter of the program and the ecosystem. They made it happen along with Jo Kelly and Gail Marshall and the CoS even rolled out the green carpet for us. Huge Thanks.

The event was oversubscribed and post event survey made us all very happy –

  • 100% satisfaction rate and a
  • 99% ‘I’d recommend to a friend’ rate

Both of which are remarkable.

The next one has been scheduled for September. I hope they book the Sydney Town Hall for 500 people cause I think we can fill it, then we can get them all to attend SydStart too.

They rolled out the green carpet for the startups 101 night at customs house in the sydney cbd. Pete Cooper from sydstart spoke.

They rolled out the green carpet for the startups 101 night at customs house in the sydney cbd.

It wasn't xmas but this was the most recent wide angle view photo I had, awesome no?

It wasn’t xmas but this was the most recent wide angle view photo I had, awesome no?

The FBI recently did a risk assessment on bitcoin that was published in luanch.co by @jason that is shared below along with my original assessment published on the coinr blog 18 months ago.

FBI risk assessment of Bitcoin:
— 8.8m+ Bitcoins in circulation, avg. market price $4-$5
— As of April 18, ’12, $8m+ trans. occured over past 30 days
— From May ’11, prices fluctuated from $30 (June ’11) to $4 (Dec. ’11)
— Obstacles include no laundering software, no ID of acct. owners or location, no historical records with actual identity
— Law enforcement can’t target one central company for investigative purposes
— LulzSec reportedly received $18k in donations, tried to purchase botnet
Link

Coinr Blog

A new ‘virtual currency’ seems to have taken the financial and technology worlds by storm in recent months.

Google the phrase ‘regulatory response to bitcoin’ and watch the hit counter climb over time, expect this trend to continue as the total traded value of the bitcoin ‘currency’ continues to grow and regulators around the world start to understand the significance of this new decentralised transnational virtual currency.

While bitcoin appears to have solved the double-spending risk problem of purely virtualised currencies it has more problems than positives.

  • Being decentralised it has no regulation other than that set initially, so if it is changed over time there is little control for current or future investors. Sure this is unlikely now but once momentum is gathered (as it rapidly is doing) then the temptation for those able to bias the system will grow.
  • Being devoid of a home nation (or nations) it…

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Australia – Riding On The Geek’s Back

Time to stop plodding Australia. It is time to go screaming into these amazing tech enabled blue sky opportunities. Forget the resources red ‘ocean’. Grab hold of reality and read on…

Throughout the short but eventful history of Australia we have been often referred to by domestic and international commentators as riding on the back of something, riding on someones coat tails or basically not having originality of thought or independence of action.

I think these commentators are incorrect and purely demonstrating their own short sighted views and lack of context, especially lack of awareness of the unique or at least highly differentiated inventions, businesses, products and services we have created.

These creations have come in turn from unique circumstances not least being the tyranny of distance, scarcity of resources like water, food, population, manufacturing, technology, skills and of course funds.

Frankly these are just excuses.

Any entrepreneur knows scarcity just helps rapid decision making and outcomes.

So we have had our fair share of riding –

Riding on the sheep’s back

Riding on the farmers’s back

Riding on the miner’s back

And of course riding on the coat tails of England, America and more recently China, India or even just ‘Asia’.

Well now it is time for us to be –

Riding on the Geek Entrepreneur’s back

What does this new future look like?

A brand? Like Silicon Beach Australia? Glad our PM finally heard this recently, around 5 years after the term was in wide use in the tech entrepreneur community.

A network? Like NBN? No doubt it will help. No doubt we all want fibre speeds. But how long will it take and what price will we pay both now for implementation and longer term through lack of innovation or competition for this new monopoly. It is taking decades to reintroduce effective telecoms competition after the Telstra (Telecom) monopoly, this new monopoly will cause even greater risks to creative commerce and privacy. It is a little bit like superannuation, an enormous honey pot of data (and value added revenue), too tempting for government to ignore.

A community? Like sydstart, fishburners, silicon beach, aesy.org and so many others around the nation in every state and territory capital? Probably, yes. But learning to encourage and support these fledgling future economic engines is key. Remove their barriers don’t add to them or ignore them. Lately I have attended a string of political announcements promising awareness but is anyone actually listening and acting? No, they keep quoting an understanding of disruptive technology without having read the book. No, they fund and promote the largest events for   startups which are actually run by millionaires and are only one third of the real thing which is run by real startups and real community.

We need simple changes to –

Enable superannuation funds to invest in startups via simple aggregators run by corporates and industry experts (not ICT experts and not advertising centric digital creative service providers but true entrepreneurial tech startup industry experts – there is a huge difference – despite many common tech skills and some commercial skills).

Enable startups to pay tax only on realisation of the return. For example on trade sale, on IPO, on change of control or on raising of material amounts of capital. This allows employees, co-founders and early enablers (mentors, angels, accelerators like pushstart, startmate and founders institute) to participate in very early stage high risk ventures without being literally killed by paperwork and capital gains tax before a cent is realised. It is only common sense.

Create more pure computer science graduates. All the real innovators from google australia to the tech startups from atlassian to freelancer to fishburners all know this. They are the job creators and export income generators and wealth creators for our nation. Some universities are doing well despite challenges to their business model but dumbing down computer science is the fast track to unskilled oblivion. We need more pure specialists that understand ground up technology (build a new quantum computing capability or ever a smarter/faster mobile phone or phone operating system – but please, please, please – not another programmer of trivial iphone or android apps that doesn’t understand the whole tech stack).

Actively promote at city, state and federal level a national roadshow of our leaders to visit the heart of this community in Sydney not to mention their ‘vital organs’ i.e. peers in each state and understand the transformative power.

Only when each leader at each level understands what we already have and supports it much much earlier in the lifecycle than they currently do and stops talking down our ecosystem (e.g recent comments by senior people from commercialisation australia at conferences and popular media) will we truly thrive.

The good news is our smartest people are going to The Valley and New York and coming back to share and leverage local advantages and natural assets that you don’t have to be a visionary to see or utilise.

The good news is our smartest people are getting funded by truly disruptive funding and community enabling technologies and the people behind them others (like our government, bureaucrats and media) are yet to even comprehend.

The good news is these disruptive innovators are creating jobs while other countries strategies focus on job destroying efficiencies.

The good news is this is being accompanied by social innovation that is transformative.

I hope Andrew Stoner, Greg Pearce, Julia Gillard, Doron Ben Meir, Asher Moses, Peter Grey and a few others get to read this and actually follow the links rather than skim the headlines. I hope these same people stop using the same old excuses and put downs. I hope they stop using the same old examples of ‘success’ that are literally years old (good though they may be).

We are world class in places, lets nurture and grow those, it just takes a little awareness, alignment and encouragement not even much money or much time.

We could be flying on the geeks back if we do it right.

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Tank versus Dam

Local dams might be the answer to tanks.

Local dams also offer lots of lower risks than big central dams and other benefits neither the big dam or a local tank can offer.

Lets explore the three –

Tanks

Deploying tanks in every home is a great way to truly localise water supplies, particularly in suburban areas that have good roof catchment areas. So they definitely add value but are they the best solution for all situations, I’d say unfortunately tanks are not a 100% solution because –

  • rain falls unevenly across suburbs (some have too much that goes to waste in overflow and some have not enough)
  • water consumption is uneven across households
  • roof area (rain water catchment areas) by household vary according to many factors including type of dwelling e.g. high rise apartments (also called ‘flats’ in some countries)
  • the cost of plumbing overflow from millions of small household tanks back into a central collection point is prohibitive in time and money and disruption and in many low lying suburbs simple gravity means further negative impact on the environment with pumps.
  • tanks have a cost to the environment in construction and installation that must be multiplied by millions of households so there is a material cost but it is not as obvious as the cost of more centralised solutions

So something in between household tanks and big monolithic centralised city (MCC) dams (like Sydney’s Warragamba dam) might be better.

Big Dams

Of course big MCC dams are centralised and get economies of scale in many ways but they have their issues too –

  • Algae bloom (like Sydney is experiencing right now) means there is a concentration risk – if something happens to the one dam, millions of people suffer
  • Terrorism targets are worse – e.g. poisoning supply with MCC dams for the same reason of concentration risk although admittedly the security can be done better because they are usually more remote (surrounded by native bush/forest catchment areas) and centralisation enables more cost effective security
  • They are usually distant from the communities they serve – costs of pumping, routing are higher.
  • May be located according to rain fall that varies over time (such as when housing growth reduces natural green areas and this impacts rainfall) and there is another concentration risk there too – this one is particularly difficult to control.

Local Dams

So the local dam idea has some merit, imagine one in the nature reserve near you if it has a gully or valley –

  • Natural valleys are proven collection points, less expensive land acquisition and clearing.
  • They are often already clear with nature reserves, parks etc around them becaus ehte land is harder to build on and local councils have them declared as parks or nature reserves
  • Downstream usually has no issues with dwellings because it is already a stream or river and the outflow/overflow is less than an MCC by orders of magnitude.
  • There is still a degree of centralisation so the cost of pumping back into ‘the system’ is more sensibly shared across thousands of households (better than tanks) and is much lower capacity (and hence cost) than a full MCC style pumping station.
  • It adds the the local wild life’s ability to be sustained in good and bad times, same for flora.
  • Significantly reduced concentration risk because if the supply is compromised, assuming a city has 20 or thirty smaller dams the loss of one or two through algae bloom or poisoning or pumping station failure is still tiny relative to the total available.

My colleague Marc Lehmann also has some good points on this and prompted me to finally write down some of this stuff. I’ll do another post on this with more detail and the relationship with storm water harvesting some time too.

Cheers, Peter.