Digital Foot Binding


According to Wikipedia “foot binding was a custom practiced on young girls and women for approximately one thousand years in China”. Like many customs of old I’m sure the practice had its roots in someone completely explainable at the time, but today it just seems cruel and inhuman and its probably best that the practice is now abandoned.

Every era has its customers and the current digital age is no exception. Whilst it might be hard for some to draw the same parallel that I have, I heard of a similar kind of practice that even now seems to me to be a little bit arcane, yet it is a practice entirely borne of the digital age.

What I am referring to is something as simple as storage management within our schools here in Australia. Whilst I am sure there are many children around the world worse off than children in Australian schools I was shocked today to discover that some schools limit the storage available to students only 50MB.

The ability to effectively use computing resources is a critical learning outcome for students today and if schools are placing these kinds of limitations on students then I wonder whether we are actually doing them some harm. I do have some perspective on this in that I used to be a Teachers Aide responsible for administering academic computer networks and we had some fairly hard limits about what kind of storage capacity was available to us, but that was over ten years ago and those limits simply don’t exist.

Part of the problem is the perception that IT resources need to be somehow carefully measured out by those wise wizards in the computer room responsible for the computer networks. Sometimes it saddens me to think that I may have used my authority of academic computing networks to hinder learning outcomes that way.


3 thoughts on “Digital Foot Binding

  1. Will

    Yeah – 50MB is limiting, but that’s about on par with what many of the bigger corporates offer their staff in network storage as of about 2 years ago.

    I bet if you look into the background, you’ll find that they simply don’t have the funds to buy a larger storage array.

    Just doing some rough back-of-an-envelope calculations. A bigger school with 2000 students and 300 staff is going to need about 200GB storage at that 50MB limit.

    I’d say a school would be on a 3-4 year replacement cycle, and that it’d been probably a $40k server at the start including a support agreement.

    If they replaced it today they’d probably get a 2TB unit at 30k which would give them around 500MB each. Ofcourse in 4 years time people will look at 500MB and laugh.

    Of course – the IT folks probably have more pressing concerns than how much network storage is available. Children, as a general rule, tend to be pretty hard on all their equipment – and IT is particularly vulnerable.

  2. Dugie

    Don’t start me on this buddy; I know these crazy pains all too well from my last gig. Don’t get me wrong, there are some schools that do an absolutely stellar performance harnessing the creative freedom of it’s students, it is was a pleasure to be there with them (infectious stuff!) …however, well you know the story about the rest.

  3. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Will,

    With all due respect they could install mesh on their computers and let the kids use that as their file store. Make sure that everyone has their own e-mail account by the time they leave school.

    No I know everyone will talk about those nasty predators online. But in reality there are just as many nasty predators offline as well. What stops them getting our kids when they are heading to or from school alone?

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