Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

I noticed today that NICTA (a research institute here in Australia) uses some interesting terminology to specify how its research should be categorised. NICTA is following a model proposed by Donald Stokes where the term used is 'used-inspired basic research'. The analogy is 4 quadrants where in one dimension there is scientific advancement and in the other application or usefulness. The 4 quadranta then have a yes or no along the two columns or rows. In one quadrant there is yes-advancing knowledge and no-no practical application called the Bohr quadrant, in another there is no, does not advance knowledge and yes-practical application called the Edison quadrant. In the third useful quadrant (the no,no is not particularly interesting but can often be seen in grant applications) we find Louis Pasteur who made foundational contributions as well as gave us nice and bacteria free milk. The Pasteur quadrant represents the 'use-inspired basic research', fair enough.

However, stumbling across the NICTA entry on wikipedia, I find that the organisation is muddying the waters a bit. They talk about 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research' as well. OK so now we have what the rest of the world uses, 'pure, basic or foundational research' and 'applied research' as well as the Stokes' 'use-inspired pure research' as well as the NICTA 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research'. I believe seeking to prove that it is possible to prove P=NP if indeed it holds true should be regarded as 'applied basic pure research' because it is useful to know that a proof can be found if indeed it holds true that it is so and that is applied, but the proof itself (if it indeed is true) is to be regarded as F***ing pure basic for most people.

It should also be made known that proving that it is possible to construct a pair of shoes that will not wear out for at least 10.000 km of normal walk so that it is possible to investigate the effects on human psyche having to walk for that long, should be regarded as 'pure applied use-inspired basic research'.

Now back to that 'no,no' grant application..

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Public lecure video

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Last Friday I gave a public seminar on the proposed filtering of the Internet by the Australian government. A video of the talk is now available on the school of IT web site. The current version is mp4 encoded, flash video will come later.

Update, an embedded flash version is now available here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Interesting NBN news

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

The government should be congratulated on the courageous plan to build a government/industry funded broadband network as announced earlier today. Coming from outside Australia and seeing the close to monopoly position Telstra currently have one may wonder why this has not happened before. Perhaps now we can get SIP pops and IPTV plus video on demand like civilised countries. This will inevitably open up opportunities for innovation and service roll out in Australia. If the government combine the one laptop per child, NBN and a building policy that each home should have at least one networked computer as minimum standard as is the case in countries such as Sweden, perhaps Australia will be able to embrace this crazy thing called the Internet and start to take advantage of its enabling powers and information distribution capabilities.

One worry though; if the government owns the national backbone, wouldn't that be the perfect place for content filters? This way the government fully control the Internet and will not have to deal with irritating and questioning ISPs. THey don't even need to tell the general public they are doing it, shhhhhhh.