Saturday, June 22, 2013

Horizon: Fracking - the New Energy Rush, BBC Two - Propaganda

I have just watched the Horizon documentation "Fracking - the New Energy Rush". I was looking forward to a neutral and informative documentary about 'fracking' - the process of extractive gas trapped in deep layers of highly compressed rock.

However, the documentary was at best a farse and at worse, suspiciously close to a propaganda video. If I was a Governement or energy company wanting to convince the British public that fracking was a magic new source of clean energy, I would have probably made exactly the same video, specifically:

  1. The use of a geologist as a narrator to make everything he said more credible, honest and less politically motivated.
  2. Scare the British audience by stating that Britain is dependant on energy from terrible rogue nations like the dreaded Iraq, with the implicit implication that fracking could secure our energy needs.
  3. Enforce the general message that fracking has no negative effects when mines are built properly.
  4. State that any other negative effects like earthquakes or gas polluted water are irrelevant because that might occur naturally anyway.
  5. Do not interview anybody from the Royal Society.
  6. Do not interview anybody from a British energy company.
  7. Do not interview any British politicians.
  8. Do not interview any British scientists.
  9. Undertake an unofficial interview with an american doctor to show that US policy is the problem and not the secret concoction of obviously very toxic chemicals - and later explain that European energy companies would have to disclose their cocktails of toxic chemicals... which is okay then.

And I too would have definitely avoided these issues:
  1. Can we trust energy companies to indeed build these wells safely?
  2. What are the consequences if after thousands of miles of wells are built under major British cities, it is discovered that infact, the wells had not been built safely? Or some other disastrous and previously unknown side-effect is discovered.
  3. Can mines be 'unbuilt'?
  4. What are these secret fracking chemicals that were used in the 2011 British trials?

It seemed to me that Professor Iain Stewart did not want to give his real opinion about fracking, even though he just spent an hour telling us how wonderful is it when it is done properly and not how those cowboy Americans are doing it...

I knew little about fracking before watching the documentary, but this "pre-emptive reassurance" by Professor Iain Stewart makes me worry why exactly Horizon think I need to be reassured...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Innovation, Creativity, Software and Success

It is amazing just how many software companies are "creative" and "innovative". In addition, by reading CV's and online profiles, it is amazing just how many people are also "creative" and "innovative".

At this point, let's loosely define our three terms "Innovate", "Creativity" and "Success":

  • Innovate - Provide a new solution to problem that is distinctly different from existing approaches
  • Creativity - The desire, ability and resourcefulness to create 'something'.
  • Success - The measure by which an individual or organization can be said to have achieved its objectives.
So it might seem reasonable to expect that the world is full of innovative, creative companies that are full to the brim of innovative and creative people. And that all of these innovative and creative companies are creating innovative new stuff....

Thus it stands to reason that the majority of these companies are NOT successful, because most new 'stuff' is created by the same relatively small number of companies.

In most cases, not being a creative and innovative company is perfectly fine. For example, a restaurant does not have to be particularly creative or innovative to make a profit (although I am not saying it may not help).

However, if you are a software company and you are not genuinely creative or innovative I would bet that you are probably not successful either. Even the big mega-corporations like Apple, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Facebook and SAP were at some point in their history creative and innovative and to varying degrees continue to be so.

So if these mega-corporations still continue to be innovative and creative, then your small software company DEFINITELY has to be.

But most software companies are neither innovative nor creative. And I wonder if this is because most people are not actually innovative or creative, despite what they say.

Companies do need different types of people, but software companies do need a genuine element of creativity and innovation which, if not always, mostly takes precedence over the best practices, rules of thumbs, processes and procedures that 'most' people would govern by.

So find genuinely innovative and creative people and let them do their thing...