Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Water Politics through the Digital Sphere

Although it is always a good idea to keep digital hardware away from dampness and other dangers to its integrity, the software can slosh about in the political puddles quite happily, at least until something goes wrong.

All digital data is ethereal until suitable hardware transforms it into something perceivable.  Yet the perceivable is not necessarily believable or valuable.

Data can be stored in many different forms, including on forms printed on pieces of paper.

Some forms of data, whether put on paper or on digital forms or placed in some other format, will have more value in one context than in another.

Retrieving a particularly important piece of paper from a pile of filled-in forms is easier with some sort of system.  The piece of paper itself is no more valuable than the other pieces.

The informational content is the part of value.

Selecting the most efficient and effective retrieval system will depend on the content of the data, and how that data is intended to be used.

Most data is used to ascertain the truth of situations, but not necessarily for honest or otherwise respectable purposes.

Software is merely a set of instructions for inputting, transforming and retrieving data.

Software is only valuable when the transformation and retrieval of data adds to the value of something else.

Transformed data is known either to be information or misinformation or merely irrelevant.

A non-digital form of hardware is the human nervous system.  The mind is like software.

The economic remuneration received for work usually depends upon the economic, political, social and cultural value placed on a particular mind in a particular human at a particular time in a particular place through the use of particular knowledge, skills and equipment to transform one situation into another.

Data itself may be valuable to both the provider and the receiver, or just to the receiver or just to the provider.

The data is not necessarily valuable to its conveyor or transformer.  The delivery of the conveyed and/or transformed data is valuable to the relationship between the provider and receiver. 

The conveyor of the data is either trustworthy or not.  Some conveyors of data are more reliable than others.

Water is like data.  It is transformed through its use.  It is valuable or problematic in context.  It requires a means through which it can be stored and conveyed to serve a useful purpose.  Its source and its recipient have a relationship that is sometimes trustworthy and sometimes not.

The means for conveying the water from its source to its intended recipient may sometimes be reliable and sometimes unreliable. 

Like data and its delivery, fresh, useful water is taken for granted when its supply is reliable. 

Most political problems involve the unreliable supply of data and water.

Gambling involves making decisions on the basis of incomplete data.  When data is incomplete it is relatively unreliable.

Successfully managing risks involves making decisions with an awareness of where gaps in useful information are occurring.  Closing those gaps is the essence of good management.

Digital tools can often assist with good management but they can also hinder the acquisition of useful knowledge, especially when too much priority is given to the digital over the physical.

Any investment in a particular location depends upon its suitability for a particular purpose.  When one purpose conflicts with another, the politics of the situation often place more value on one form of investment rather than another.

What is investment if it causes disharmony?

People are understandably anxious whenever their water supply is threatened.

Conflict over access to fresh, useful water will continue to be a major, global political issue in the years and centuries ahead, as will access to useful information on how to resolve such problems.

Conflict over the disposal of contaminated water, and information on methods for its possible decontamination, will also continue to be considerable areas of controversy, debate and conflict, with or without access to reliable, digital communications technologies.

How do you access and transform data?

How do you access and transform water?

Are you aware that many conflicts relating to mining, energy, agribusiness, manufacturing and other economic pursuits relate to their potential, detrimental effects on future access to quality water, quality soil and quality of life?

How do you use software to transform political situations, and why?

How can you be sure your relationships have not been poisoned as a consequence of corrupted data, considerable naivety and/or corrupted politics?