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Sunday, 20 March 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: DG CONNECT and the Wizard of Oz

For the road to serfdom is, laid
But technocracy ultimately, fails.
DG CONNECT – lost in the, past
Unable to find the, present
No chance of being the, future –

DG CONNECT desperately searching for evidence. None found! "Never mind, we will still spend 8M euro of your money, for we will in the end just invite some of our experts to tell us what a marvellous thing STARTS was" – straight-out of the Communist party manual for running a technocratic state. Forget about reality – propaganda is everything.
Artists working in research, development, innovation and design projects; this is not the same thing as using art in these types of projects. To do that in fact one does not necessarily need an artist to be involved! This is part of the reference model we have developed. There are other modes of operation that are also part of this. We are, once again, being too theoretical! And reaping the benefits!
And now for a little story ...
“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Why do you seek me?”
They looked again in every part of the room, and then, seeing no one, Dorothy asked, “Where are you?”
“I am everywhere,” answered the Voice, “but to the eyes of common mortals I am invisible. I will now seat myself upon my throne, that you may converse with me.” Indeed the Voice seemed just then to come straight from the throne itself: so they walked towards it and stood in a row while Dorothy said:
‘We have come to claim our promise, O Oz.”
“What promise?” asked Oz.
“You promised to send me to paradise when the technologists became creative,” said the girl.
“And you promised to remove silos,” said the scarecrow.
“And you promised to produce unconventional and compelling products,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And you promised make European industry more competitive through working at the intersection of science, technology and the arts,” said the Cowardly Lion.
“Are technologists really now creative?” asked the Voice and Dorothy thought that it trembled a little.
“Yes,” she answered, “I gave them artist’s creativity elixir mixed in with a bucket of water.”
“Dear me,” said the Voice, “how sudden! Well come to me tomorrow, for I must have time to think it over.”
“You’ve had plenty of time already,” said the Tin Woodman angrily.
“We shan’t wait another day longer,” said the Scarecrow.
“You must keep your promises to us!” exclaimed Dorothy.
The Lion thought that it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in the corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a European Commission DG CONNECT official, with head full of strange ideologies and beliefs, who seemed as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman raised his axe, rushed towards the official and cried out, “Who are you?”
“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible”, said the official in a trembling voice, “but don’t strike me–please don’t–and I’ll do anything you want me to.”
Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
“I thought Oz was a knowledgeable Head, and knew about art”, said Dorothy.
“And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady who knew how to use art to address patriarchal power structures in ICT research and innovation systems,” said the Scarecrow.
“And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast that knew how solve all the problems of the European ICT sector by using art in research and innovation,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire, that knew how to use art in research and innovation to sweep away the old and usher in a new golden era for the European ICT sector,” exclaimed the Lion.
“No you are all wrong,” said the official meekly. I am a technocrat who knows very little about all these things, and I have been making believe.”
“Making believe!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a great Wizard?”
“Hush my dear,” he said: “don’t speak so loud, or you will be overheard–and I should be ruined. I’m supposed to be a Great Wizard.”
“And aren’t you?” she asked.
“Not a bit of it my dear; I’m just a common man.”
“You’re more than that,” said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; “you’re a humbug.”
“Exactly so!” declared the official, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. I’m a humbug.”
“But this is terrible,” said the Tin Woodman; “how shall we ever produce unconventional and compelling products?”
“Or make European industry more competitive through working at the intersection of science, technology and the arts?” asked the Lion.
“Or remove silos,” wailed the Scarecrow, wiping the tears from his eyes with his coat sleeve.
“My dear friends,” said Oz. “I pray you not to speak of these little things. Think of me, and the terrible trouble I’m in at being found out.”
“Doesn’t anyone else know you’re a humbug?” asked Dorothy.
“No one knows it but you four–and myself,” replied Oz. “I have fooled everyone so long that I thought I should never be found out. It was a great mistake my ever letting you into the Throne Room ...”

Thanks to L. Frank Baum for writing a children’s story that, like Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor New Clothes, speaks of the nonsense of human behaviour and DG CONNECT’s STARTS initiative. We call it behavioural policy making – the delusion that people know what they are doing and that they are acting in a rational and objective way – humbug!

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