25 Q&As: A mug's game

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Brendan Scott, IT lawyer, shares his experiences with Sandra Rossi.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing IT managers now?

Moving vendors to a services-based model for software development and distribution. Current government policy is effectively a welfare model for software development, with the copyright monopoly granted to vendors as an incentive to create software. This has resulted in suboptimal outcomes for customer organisations and inefficient distribution of resources overall in the software market. Even copyright vesting in customers is suboptimal because that customer effectively becomes an island and is unable to leverage off the value of a broader community. If you’re a customer, copyright is a mug’s game. New licensing schemes, and, in particular, access regimes for software, promise to force software vendors to compete on service and price, rather than monopoly control of a strategic component. This will permit customers to strip out monopoly components from software costs, thus giving them more for less. If the IT managers of today do their jobs right, those of tomorrow won’t know the meaning of the term “lock in”.

What has been the most disappointing project, technology or IT service for you during your IT career?

The attempted transformation of the Internet from a medium directed to the transfer of valuable information into a dumb entertainment vehicle. This has been driven by a “content is king” philosophy which has proven to be 100 per cent wrong in practice. This fascination with “content” has significantly distorted the market for connectivity within Australia right across the infrastructure spectrum. The alliance of content and carriage services has had the effect of carriage subsidising content at least at the retail level, restricting broader uptake and limiting opportunities for innovation. The attempted transplanting of a broadcast model onto a peer-to-peer infrastructure is at best misguided. The unkind might call it foolish.

What would you tell someone entering IT now?

The same advice I’d give everyone. Do something you have a passion for.

What tertiary qualifications do you have?

BSc (Hons) LLB, GDLP

When did you start in IT and what job did you have before you moved in IT?

My first job in IT was as a database developer for a commonwealth department in Canberra in the 80s. Since then I finished my law degree and have been practising in IT and telecommunications law ever since. Before that I was serving ice cream at the Jamison Pool.

What was the first computer technology you used (and when)?

Not including calculators, the Wang 2200, probably around 1977.

What is the scariest thing looking forward in your IT career?

Aggregation and control technologies such as secure computing and digital rights management. This collection of technologies threatens to strangle innovation and, in the long term, pose the greatest threat to the continued functioning of our civil society since the advent of fascism.

Fast facts: IT users: 1. Key applications: MoFast facts: zilla, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Open Office. Key infrastructure — operating systems: Win 98 SE, Red Hat Linux 7.3.

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