Monday, January 15, 2007

Sometimes a Big Brother is a good thing

OK, this old lefty is going to go against type and come out in favour of the Government Database.

The way I see it, the government - any government - will always collect information about their people. Let's be open about it, and let's make it accurate, and let's make it possible for the data to be challenged.

Also let's do the job properly.

My day-job involves installing large databases at large companies. I'm sure the uninitiated have a preconception about the way a large company stores their data. Probably in a pure white, squeaky-clean building with big, humming computers and blokes with huge egg-heads and glasses.

Nah - most of them use a bunch of inconsistent spreadsheets on their laptops. Sometimes the Accounting system is OK, but the accountants don't use it - they've got a spreadsheet too, and everything else is usually a mess of spaghetti and duct-tape.

That's the way I imagine the ultra-secret database that's probably already out there in some government department starting with an "M".

The film "Brazil" is one of my favourites. I'm reminded of the bit near the start where a literal bug gets into the teleprompter at The Ministry, and Tuttle turns to Buttle with horrific results for Mr Buttle and family.

I don't think we have a choice between a database and no database. I think the choice is between a secret shambles and a clean, open, accountable database built using the best methods of modern computing science.

Well, I can dream ...


Kenny said...

Can I say NHS?

Stan said...

You can. But then you need to tell me whether failure in the past should stop us trying in the future.

Kenny said...

I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

It shouldn't stop us, but we must learn from the mistakes of what can only be described as a royal c0ck-up.