Monday, December 14, 2009


In the last three weeks I've sent "Havyattograms" to three senior people in the industry that I highly respect. A Havyattogram basically is an e-mail that, roughly, says "How could you say such a foolish thing, don't you know that/realise that ..." A variant of a Havyattogram is that I wrote something on my blog about someone else. I'll usually, but not always, send an e-mailed copy of the post to them.

As lots of people can get Havyattograms I thought I might make a permanent record here of what they are, and by way of standing public apology. While the Havyattogram (let's shorten that to H-o-g) always has the flavour of suggesting the person to whom it is addressed is a fool, that is neither its intent nor its purpose.

I happen to be highly enamoured of the whole concept of the dialectic - that from the interplay between thesis and antithesis comes new tings, the synthesis. As a reasoning art form it was utilised by Plato in his description of the Socratic dialogues. Both Hegel and Marx used the dialectic as a mechanism for describing progress through history.

I'm also fascinated by the concept that behavioural economists call "bounded rationality", that is that economic decision makers do make rational choices, but only on the basis of a subset of all possible information (and hence choices). That comes to be in part because we rely on the stories we've constructed to build our view of the world.

The three recent H-o-g's were;

1. In response to a speech in which the idea that the Telstra network was "paid for by taxpayers" was trundled out as a reason for regulation. It wasn't, and there are other better reasons. Kevin Morgan in today's Communications Day ran through most of the story - hopefully a note I've penned will be run tomorrow and I'll post it here afterwards.

2. In response to a comment about extra regional backhaul and the idea that competition alone can reduce prices. Competition can, but competition cannot reduce prices below cost - and doubling the investment on thin routes is the wrong response.

3. In response to a suggestion by Telstra that it would embrace prospective separation but want to hang onto its HFC network to compete.

I've written earlier about these last two here somewhere.

The telco industry is confusing enough without us perpetuating the "bounded rationality" of these myths. My apoploies to these three fine folk (men actually) and my apologies in anticipation to everyone else who will receive an H-o-g in the future. But I will keep going in the spirit of vigorous intellectual enquiry.

The only thing of which I am certain is that the future can be better than the present and the past. But it won't just happen. To make it happen we have to be prepared to inquire and debate.

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