Gordon Brown and the internet

September 23, 2008

So it seems that Gordon Brown will unveil an internet connection programme that will apply in England but not in the rest of the UK?

Is this part of the plan to get the UK higher up the world broadband league table where the UK sits 13th?

But its strange that this programme will take place only in England. Not Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

Because England leads the UK in broadband takeup!

So because the UK Government is refusing to give Barnett consequentials to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the rest of the UK misses out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d much rather Barnett was scrapped and Scotland had full fiscal responsibility instead (I’m sure the Northern Irish and Welsh have their own ideas) – but while we’ve got the system, it should be seen to be operating.

Otherwise it can only fuel Plaid Cymru and the SNP in their bid for independent nations.

So the nation with the highest broadband takeup in the UK gets all the money, and the rest of us gets nothing! Wasn’t Barnett supposedly based on need?

Wales broadband takeup is only 45%. Northern Ireland is 52%. Scotland is 53 %.

Broadband takeup in Glasgow is 32%. I have already posted a blog comparing Glasgow’s internet reach with the Glasgow circulation of the Daily Record and found the newspaper is marginally ahead of those that read news on the internet.

What that means of course is that more people get exposed to the Daily Record’s Labour propaganda than get their news from the internet.

Indeed the whole Internet Connection Programme can be seen as politically motivated in Labour’s interest. It keeps Labour strongholds like Wales and Scotland’s public free of any dissenting Labour voice and also in England promotes freedom of expression where Labour is weak and also tries to quell any demand for an English Parliament at the same time.

Of course, some Labour bloggers may find this a good idea, given they say a leaning on the internet of nationalist blogs in Scotland.

They fail to realise that its precisely because the public have little newspaper or media support backing their aspirations of independence, that they have had to take to the internet to try and get their views heard! Again, that’s something I have blogged about before.

Incidentally, this blog has just had over 25 000 page views since I started at the end of May. (Thanks to everyone that reads!)

I think that’s not bad, since I still don’t know what I’m doing!

Thanks to Gordon Brown’s ‘not Scotland’ policy, I guess all the Scottish bloggers will be disappointed that the Scottish internet take-up will remain stagnant. (The same goes for Wales and Northern Ireland.)

Another Union dividend.

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites


Georgia on my mind

August 9, 2008

The Georgian President has just declared a state of war with Russia.

The region they are fighting over is South Ossetia, an autonomous region in Georgia which unilaterally declared independence from Georgia last year. Its declaration has not been recognised by any member of the UN as valid, as its referendums on the matter are not regarded as valid.

Russia holds the neighbouring region of North Ossetia.

Map of Georgia and neighbouring Russian regions

Georgian military moved into South Ossetia claiming the Russians have violated Georgian air space, coincidentally as the world’s attention was focussed on the Olympics instead.

Now the Russians have responded with air raids killing thousands. Around 30 000 Ossetians have fled.

It seems that Russian hackers have also crippled the Georgian .ge domain, making Georgian information from the internet extremely hard to find.

The U.S. educated Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has called for his troops to be removed from Iraq.

The Georgians are allies of America and Saakashvili has called for American support against Russia. There is a Georgian now representing the U.S. at archery in the Olympics.

America has so far just called for a ceasefire, so far unheeded.

Whether the Americans will actually enter the conflict is doubtful. They already have troops battling in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the conflict can only be resolved by organising a UN organised referendum to the people of South Ossetia, with both Georgia and Russia promising to recognise the result. If the previous referendums are an indication then South Ossetia would be a free independent country.

However, both Russia and Georgia would be against this.

Georgia would lose territory and give impetus to two other autonomous regions in its borders Abkhazia and Adjara to follow the same route.

Russia would be concerned that an independent Ossetian state in the south, would ultimately lead to the loss of its region of North Ossetia wishing to join the new country. It would also give impetus to Chechnya and possibly other Caucaus regions to declare independence from Russia.

Meanwhile, the South Ossetians are caught in the crossfire between the war and politics of Georgia and Russia.

Literally.


Blogging – a minority sport?

July 17, 2008

On a recent BBC television programme Holyrood Live, the chair of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission Blair Jenkins quoted figures they researched indicating the source of people’s news.

TV approx. 80 %
Newspapers approx 55 %
Radio approx 25 %
Internet approx 20 %

I would imagine these figures would be similar across the UK, with these provisios garned from Ofcom:-

Scotland has a 53 % takeup of broadband.
England has a 58 % takeup
Northern Ireland has a 52 % takeup
Wales has a 45 % takeup

The UK on average has a 57% takeup of broadband.

(Ofcom also breaks Scotland’s takeup down by region:-

Aberdeen 64%
Edinburgh, Highlands and Islands, Dundee 62%
Glasgow 32 % )

Glasgow’s figure is low because there is less takeup of PCs.

It is also clear that the figures in Glasgow, its largest city, are slowing down Scotland’s takeup figures as a whole! If Glasgow had a figure close to that of Edinburgh, Dundee or Aberdeen then Scotland would be higher than the UK average with a figure higher than 60 %.

Ofcom’s figures for the UK show are a slight improvement than the standard

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/cmrnr08/scotland/

So it would be fair to say that the figures for the internet news mentioned in the Scottish Broadcasting Commission would probably be slightly higher in England, probably around 22 % closing in on radio. If reflected on Northern Ireland and Wales the internet news figure would be slighly lower.

What does all this mean for Scottish bloggers?

Well it really means that percentage-wise our Scottish audience figures will be low. How many internet users could be swayed by news or political blogs online in Glasgow East, say?

Glasgow has a 32% take up of broadband. Its probably less in Glasgow East, but Ofcom’s figures don’t break down by constituency.

So if we take the Glasgow East constituency of say 60000 (compensating for the lower broadband take-up and making the arithmetic slightly easier); only 1/3 of people there will have broadband.

That’s 20 000.

Now only a fifth of those use the internet for news.

That’s 4 000.

That’s a maximum amount of Glasgow East people that political bloggers and online newspapers etc can reach.

But compare that figure to the Daily Record.

Average daily circulation figure in Scotland around 360 000.
Population of Scotland about 5 million people.

Thats 7.2% of the population.

7.2% of 60 000 (roughly the Glasgow East electorate) is 4320.

A remarkably close figure to the internet figure.

The difference is that the news hungry internet people have a world of choice to get their news, and those reading the Daily Record are stuck with the Record’s view on everything from politics to big brother and the Old Firm.

What better reason could there be for extending the broadband take-up in Scotland?

Scotland has 53% broadband take-up. South Korea has 93 % broadband take-up.

South Korea has legislation making new house-builders put broadband in place as standard. What’s more its usually better and faster (mainly fibre-optic technology) and cheaper than the standard in Scotland.

Something to think about for Scotland.


Scotland’s rights, by Glasgow

June 27, 2008

The current explosion of pro-independence blogs can be attributed to a hostile media in Scotland – see Declarations of Independence for a summary.

But the history of publishing articles arguing for Scottish independence is not new. It did not start on the creation of the Scottish National Party (1934) or its forerunner The National Party of Scotland (1928). Not even with The Declaration of Arbroath (1320), although that was the first document to outline the modern idea of a nation state.

What about the Picts versus the Romans? Calgacus, the great warrior, addressing his Pictish soldiers: “They make a desert and they call it peace” and demanding that they fight for their land? Alas, this was written by a Roman, Tacitus, and we have no idea if its true. It may have been just his version of ‘bigging up’ his opponent to reflect greater glory on Rome. We will never know. In any case, Calgacus never intended his speech to be published, and Tacitus was hardly arguing the case for Scottish Independence. Whats more, the idea of a Scottish nation would only arise after the coronation of Kenneth MacAlpin in 843, when he became the King of Alba. (Alba was the forerunner of Scotland today.)

One definite place to look would be the Wars of Independence between Scotland and England. The 1290 Treaty of Northampton, insists on a written promise by the English king, Edward I, that Scotland would remain independent of England. This was at a time when Queen Margaret of Scotland, the maid of Norway, died in childhood leaving the Scottish throne open to competitors like the Bruce family, the Bailiol family and the Comyn family who all were relations of the young Queen.

Edward I as a neutral was asked to rule on the matter. That was a big mistake as he demanded that who he choose swore fealty to him and when his choice King John Bailiol of Scotland finally tried to stand up to him – for long enough he didn’t, and he was known as the Toom Tabard – the English king invaded Scotland and tried to take it by force, starting the Wars of Independence.

Obviously, the Scots who insisted that Scotland’s independence be signed off by Edward I were right to mistrust the English king. The treaty was written on the Scots side by several clerics, foremost among them Bishop Robert Wishart of Glasgow. So influential was he that Edward I consulted him on his proposed Governance of Scotland in 1305, when the English king thought he had control of Scotland.

He always supported Robert Bruce’s claim to the throne. When Bruce knifed Comyn in a church, the Glaswegian Bishop quicky absolved Robert and made it possible for Robert the Bruce to be crowned King of Scots in 1306.

Wishart was imprisoned in England and blinded, but was later released to Rome, before returning to Scotland after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 finally secured Scotland’s freedom.

The 1290 Treaty of Northampton. Asserting Scotland’s rights to be free of England.

Chief architect, Robert Wishart, the Bishop of Glasgow.


Northern Irish and Welsh broadband take-up

June 17, 2008

I’ve taken both countries together, as their average broadband speed is the slowest in the UK; Northern Ireland (2.26 Mbps) being the slower of the two. Wales is slightly better on 2.59 Mbps.

Both countries are the lowest in the UK for broadband take-up. Northern Ireland is slightly behind Scotland at 52 %, and Wales is crawling at a take-up of 45 %. This would put Northern Ireland at 17th in the ITIF take-up ranking if included, in front of Spain. Wales would be at 21st just in front of Portugal. This is in comparison to the UK’s 12th position on broadband take-up, though Wales is slightly better than nearby Liverpool’s rate of 40 %, and Glasgow’s rate of 32 % which is the lowest in all of the UK.

BT claim in Wales that the country has 99 % access to broadband, a claim that has been disputed by the Welsh Consumer Council.

The Pembrokeshire firm Telecom Facilities seeks to improve the access to 100 % by a novel idea – they plan to put wifi basestations in church spires to bring broadband to rural communities!

That’s such a good idea it deserves to be taken on in rural communities throughout Scotland, England and Northern Ireland too that are still without broadband.

The Liberal Democrats in Wales have not been slow to point out the discrepancy of speed. Mark Williams, the MP for Ceredigion, has stated: “These results show the true picture of broadband services in the UK. While London enjoys the full benefit of super-fast connections, Wales is left with the internet equivalent of two cups and a piece of string.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland was the first country in the UK to achieve 100 % Broadband access in its exchanges. This is in comparison to Scotland; Ofcom does not even know how much of Scotland is beyond the reach of broadband!

Northern Ireland has one of the average lowest weekly wages in the UK and one of highest comparative spends on communications. Thus, even with a low weekly wage people are still spending on communications.

It also has a higher rural population than the rest of the UK. Rural broadband take-up was slightly higher (54%) than urban take-up (52%).

Although both have low broadband speeds and take-up rates, there is some good news on language. There are some 14000 articles on wikipedia written in Welsh and around 6000 articles written in Ulster Scots.

That’s a fair achievement considering the low take-up and speed.

Just think what could be done if the take-up was improved.

add to del.icio.usadd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vinepost to facebookAdd to Technorati Favoritespost to NowPublicpost to googleadd to Yahoo! add to Live Favourites