Friday, January 21, 2005

FAQ: So what's Global Data?

Corporate media tell us the key equation in Iraq is the preparedness of its new domestic security force. But what about the state of its infrastructure? Talk to your average Iraqi and you'll get an earful about that. Politics is expensive, especially democratic politics (so many movers and shakers!). Providing all that champagne and cake to upper deck ballrooms requires a state of the art cruise ship. Beyond a well-appointed kitchen, you need smooth sailing, which entails a well-equipped bridge, 24/7 engineering, GIS/GPS and other sensors, densely informative interfaces. Aircraft pilots will identify, but most police aren't certified on such equipment. And demolition engineers don't build cruise ships, democratic or otherwise. They just send enemies to the bottom (where Iraq already is, so what's their mission again?).

Here in PDX, I have easy access to diagrams of under-street pipelines if I want them, plus satellite imagery of my neighborhood. Our kids need to learn that water from the tap doesn't appear by magic and won't keep flowing without continued planning and maintenance. I've urged OMSI to consider a permanent exhibit regarding our regional water supply, featuring Joe Miller's Bull Run and all the rest of it. An open society educates its children about their heritage, and that includes the infrastructure. Here at the Global Data Corporation, we consider the whole planet, its long term management and care, to be your problem (ours too). And so we want you to have all the data you might need -- and packaged in a form that's usable (by you).

OK, so how are you going to get fuel and power reliably flowing to the Iraqi people? What's your plan? You might need to play with Sims while exploring your options. So, does the Iraqi grid connect to others? If not, why not? Who drew the plans we have today? Are they any good? And if no one asked you, how democratic is that? Oh, so you're not an Iraqi? That never stopped the Americans from making plans for the region. So I guess you don't have to be an Iraqi to think and care about the cradle of civilization -- nor by the same token an American to think about how America might be rewired. Global grids are like that: limiting your thinking to just one patch of Earth, because of some design in your passport, just makes you retarded. Flags, logos, brands, bar codes -- lots of grist for our data base mills.

Here at Global Data we really do care about quality and want our brand to inspire confidence. We don't want you risking big money on the basis of warped or incomplete information. In school they show you a colorful patchwork of countries, all with capital cities -- so what? How usable is that information? National Geographic does a lot of good work to fill in the blanks. But what if their next issue isn't focused on your problem? TV is even more frustrating, compared to what it could be. As if the readiness of the Iraqi police was all you needed to know about. What nonsense. More die from bad water than from car bombs.

Let's show Iraqis some competent management for a change, and with their best interests at heart. If Bechtel and Halliburton won't do it, let's do it without 'em. How about more indigenous consortia? Or maybe invite some Brazilian supranational to the table. The permutations are endless. Whom do Iraqis trust? Run some opinion polls why not? And why shouldn't some of the infrastructure be state run? Because Paul Bremer said so?

We could start with better media: more global data on the screen, and more rational discussion about infrastructure. That means more engineers, fewer politicos. Maybe it's time to get that geek channel showing some control rooms. I know, I know, people are really busy; B2B takes time.

How about we stop abusing the military as a cover story -- as a human shield -- to keep the real deal under wraps? Tell us more about that oil. The global literacy level has gotten too high for those same old bedtime stories, over and over. Our collective IQ won't permit this snail's pace any longer, all this business as usual. We just can't afford to wait for LAWCAP era CEOs to weigh and reweigh the risks -- too risky. Just give us the all data we need, filtered through multiple perspectives, and we'll take it upon ourselves to learn the chatter and start processing, even if we're still just teenagers growing up in Tikrit. The brains are out here in plentiful supply, and real democracy is inclusive, by definition. Let's dive head first into world game.

There's this copout convenience which the prospect of terrorism presents: we can't let you know the real deal about infrastructure, because you might be a terrorist, or, even if you're not, glasnost is simply too dangerous. We can't afford to move ahead with perestroika because of 911. In other words: terrorism has won and you, dear reader, are destined to remain forever in the dark, in some "just trust us" charade wherein this tiny elite decides what's best on your behalf. Sure, there's a facade, a Hollywood set, called "freedom and democracy" but scratch the surface and you'll find it's just a made-for-TV sham.

So, thanks to terrorism, and those using it to their own exclusive advantage, you've been walled out. You're a human being, designed to think and act locally (yeah it's a podunk solar system, but we like it), and yet all those pretentious mickey mouse executives won't let you do your job, won't share any information. OK, so I guess the problem for you right now is to find out how to work around 'em. Perhaps Global Data will be of service (we hope you'll like our commercials).

Obviously my management team considers much of the 911 rhetoric a ploy, used by the selfish to keep what should be common knowledge under lock and key. Sharing the gist of how the water system is set up, in either Portland or Palestine, doesn't mean handing out all the secret access codes. Security is a concern, and unauthorized access is something to protect against -- at least half the time because the incompetent will just get themselves killed for no reason, and maybe win a Darwin award. We don't want that. But nor do we want the crew aboard Spaceship Earth to be kept dangerously clueless about the proper care and feeding of her electrical system, her satellite system, her circulation system, her metals. The CIA World Fact Book was just a beginning in our view.

Nor do we imagine any special "white man's burden" such as Kipling once penned about. The once big secret of the dismal scientists, the inevitability of a Malthusian melt down, is neither secret nor widely accepted dogma any more. Sure, some cults hold to it, but here at Global Data, we're admittedly influenced by Fuller's World Game projections (we plan on using his map a lot, even more than we have been). We tend to think the espousers of apocalyptic prophecies are merely singing their own swan songs, projecting their small-minded myopia on the big screen, and scaring themselves silly. These aren't the kind of people you want on the bridge, right? Haven't you already heard enough phony fear mongering and wolf crying to last a lifetime? Well, if you do miss your doomsayers, feel free to campaign for them. It's a free country after all. But don't expect Global Data to back your guys (our yes men might). Our favorite candidates spit a much cooler fire.