Back to the Berra

Gweneth and I are driving back to Canberra today (via a lunchtime seminar at RMIT). This will wrap up my 3-month stint at the University of Melbourne.

Melbourne and ANU are both terrific universities, but ANU is still home. And as former Education Minister Brendan Nelson once powerfully said of the institution:

No matter what league table you use, ANU is closer to the top of Australia’s universities internationally than it would be regarded to be at the bottom.

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6 Responses to Back to the Berra

  1. cba ;) says:

    i do wonder how you stumble upon this stuff andrew (the nelson speech)
    decent for a press club speech, although kind of a back handed compliment of the ANU:

    “ANU is outstanding at investigative driven research. Original research. Absolutely brilliant. It’s commercial outcomes are not quite so strong. Only 0.2% of ANU’s research revenues are actually attributed to licence revenues. It’s about 300 thousand dollars. About the same as the University of South Australia in terms of commercialisation of research.”

    and more…

    “In 1854 [...] George Boole produced his Boolean algebra [...] And most people at the time thought well that’s interesting but what use is that? It wasn’t for another ninety years until Claud Shannon in the 1940’s took George Boole’s algebra and developed it as the language of the computer and the basis of digital computation.

    The point is we don’t know what we don’t know. We often don’t understand the importance of new discoveries. For us, again as a relatively small country, competing with outstanding countries in science such as Korea, we have to collaborate. It’s about quality, it’s about collaboration, and it’s also about commercialisation of research. ”

    so it can take 90 years or more for truly great ideas to percolate through to indusry. exactly how does this lead me to conclude that “it’s” about commericialisation of research? sure as shit George Boole wasn’t thinking about digital computation when he dreamed up his algebra.

    for me, “it’s” about expanding and sharing knowledge as broadly across the population as it can be effectively utilised (sally forth and conquer, you buggers). using academia to secure commericial IP is a secondary concern (if you want to sponsor private R&D, then why not directly sponsor it?).

    i’m all for academics venturing out of the ivory tower from time to time, but only if it serves the goals of increasing and sharing knowledge. to date i think the results under nelson have been mixed at best.

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    Cam, I was reviewing a book by Thomas Barlow (“The Australian Miracle”). I’ll post the full review here as soon as it gets a run.

  3. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Just knocked Barlow’s book off myself. Looking forward to your review.

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    Short version: I liked it, but I wondered why he couldn’t bring himself to name names.

  5. Sinclair Davidson says:

    … or provide decent (or any) references.

  6. Peter says:

    Cba: I think 90 years for commercial exploitation is just the start! Some of us in computer science are using the work of Aristotle, 2300 years after he first did the research. One doubts, somehow, that public-sector research funding agencies would approve of such a long lead time for payoff.

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