NZers too modest by half, says knowledge report author

The self-effacing Kiwi is his or her own worst enemy when it comes to the new knowledge economy, says Howard Frederick, who wrote much of ITAG's 'The Knowledge Economy' report, released yesterday.

The self-effacing Kiwi is his or her own worst enemy when it comes to the new knowledge economy, says Howard Frederick, director of the New Zealand Internet Institute and chair of Communications at Victoria University.

"New Zealanders are too modest," he says. "Americans only believe half of what anyone says - so if a New Zealander only tells half the story, about a quarter gets believed."

Citing Jade as an example, he says: "Gil Simpson has created the successor to C++, but the world hasn't realised it yet."

Frederick wrote much of ITAG's "The Knowledge Economy" report, released yesterday. The report is a submission to government from a "private sector perspective" on the development of a knowledge economy, says Frederick, and a "very constructive response" that dovetails with both National's "Bright Future" announcement and Labour's plans for IT.

"[The report] can't be all things to all people," he says, and reflects the attitudes of the businesspeople in ITAG, but it is still more in-depth than the "lite" Bright Future report.

Despite New Zealand's much-vaunted skills with No 8 fencing wire, "The Knowledge Economy" report says local companies tend to be averse to risk, and conservative about adopting new technologies. A lack of innovative entrepreneurs is likely to hold the country back from success in the new economy.

If New Zealand is to beat the "Argentine disease" - the decline of a once prosperous country - then New Zealanders must address six key issues, says the report. These include: education; Maori involvement in the knowledge economy; immigration and the "brain drain"; R&D (research and development), a "culture of innovation" and changes to the export mix.

New Zealand's main competitors in this new economy are already ahead - Australia, Finland, Ireland, Singapore and the US have already recognised, and begun, the changes that are needed. Government here must champion the knowledge economy if it's going to happen - and in that respect the Bright Future report has been "priceless", says Frederick.

The Knowledge Economy Report is available at these sites:

http://www.knowledge.gen.nz

http://www.moc.govt.nz/pbt/infotech/itag/publications.html

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