In January 2001 The Funneled Web went online with the aim of commenting on Australia's Higher Education and Research Policies. The Coalition government with John Howard as prime minister had been in power for four years and ten months and in About TFW: we voiced our belief that the government would do little to support appropriately Australia's higher education and research sectors unless driven to do so by public opinion.
Now seven years have past and we have a change in government. We hope that the fear and loathing that was so evident in the behaviour of John Howard toward the university sector will be replaced by a common goal of the newly installed government led by Kevin Rudd and the nation's university and publicly funded research institutions to move Australia to be one of the leading nations in support of an intellectually based economy.
We wrote in 2001:
The Funneled Web has been set up to inform those who access it of what's happening in Australia and the rest of the world of what will increasingly affect our standard of living and well being, this year, this decade and beyond. By using the Internet, and particularly the World Wide Web, news of what's happening in the world – particularly in science, technology and education as well as the approaches of various countries in taking advantage of progress in 21st century knowledge, can be funnelled to you. Who knows, with luck perhaps those in government, those aspiring to govern, and even the corporate movers and shakers may take some notice if we get it across that it matters to us.
As TFW develops, it... will keep regular visitors not only up to date with national and world developments but we hope — entertained as well. This is our attempt to help put the means in your hands to get those who govern to do so for the common good – in fact rather than just for appearances and popularity.
"Science, engineering and technology underpin our future as a thriving cultured and responsible community." [Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr. Robin Batterham – not an 'ivory towered' academic but industry based]. Add to that education & learning and you've got a good mix, a very good mix.
Currently Australia is not keeping pace with its cohorts in extending its knowledge economy. It's not stagnant, but it's rate of progress is causing us to fall increasingly behind.
If a national will exists, then we can certainly catch up and stay up. Without that resolve, there's no way in the world we'll manage it – we're not that lucky a country.
But we also need the tools to do the job. Those to whom we've entrusted power have the means to provide them if we get them to realise that we expect them to do so – or we can move them on.
So what is the solution?
To regard as valuable - learning, knowledge, and their utilisation.
It's that simple to state and it'll be damned hard to accomplish. One thing's certain; there'll be no quick fix.
If anything, that's more true now in 2008 than it was in 2001.
Alex Reisner, Editor
The Funneled Web
Alex Reisner studied at Stanford, Indiana University and the Karolinska Institute majoring in molecular biology and biophysics. In Australia he taught and undertook research in molecular biology first at Sydney University and then with CSIRO. He rejoined Sydney University in 1990 where he became the founding head of ANGIS, the Australian National Genomic Information Service. In 1995 he retired from ANGIS to work in the private sector.