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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boosh systems

If you've been to America recently, you'll have discovered (as least on British Airways) that when you log on to check in online you are directed to fill out your Visa waiver form online at the same time. The first time this happened to me, I thought that it was jolly modern and it made sense to fill it out before you fly, so if you tick the box that says "yes I am a terrorist" then they can stop you from getting on the plane. A good example of IT in action, as step on the road to Digital Britain, environmentally-friendly and efficient. Of course, I thought, it makes sense to do this online and I was am only surprised they didn't replace the paper forms with the online version sooner. But the system still offered me the option to print out a paper version, and I did it anyway.

When I got to America, I discovered that the online form-filling is in addition to the offline form-filling and hasn't replaced it at all. I had to fill out a green Visa waiver form just as before and the printed version that I got from the web (which could have coded all of the data in a barcode or something) was entirely pointless.

Thus the US government has, in the words of my childrens' favourite television programme The Mighty Boosh, combined the past and the future to create something that's not as good as either of them. This system isn't as good as an all-online digital system of the future and it's more expensive and inconvenient than the analgoue system that it is layered on. I wonder the Boosh's pronouncement isn't more generally true of Analogue Britain (the state we apparently trapped in until 2012, when the government's shiny new Digital Britain comes into existence). In fact, I suspect the government has actually had an operational strategy called Boosh Britain that has been in operation for some time.

P.S. I used to look at The Mighty Boosh the way my parents used to look at Monty Python when I wanted to watch it, but having actually watched it with the boys and think it's very funny indeed in places. Give it a try sometime.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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