CSIRO: Pleasantly Public

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been at the forefront of research for a very long time. Most recently:
The CSIRO has won its long-running battle to enforce a patent on technology used in Wi-fi connections that have become virtually ubiquitous in laptops and other devices around the world.
read more | digg story

The CSIRO is a statutory authority operating under the Science and Industry Research Act (1949).

The achievements of the CSIRO are so numerous it would take me too long to develop the list. Most lists on the Net appear to be segregated by reseach area, the achievements are so comprehensive.

In addition to Wi-fi technology and defending its patent, CSIRO has also ventured into the Creative Commons area. My favourite application for teaching (and soon research) is a *relatively* little known wiki-based application called VotApedia.

I have always wanted an application which enables the capacity to gauge audience opinion. Like 'the worm' used during political debates. VotApedia provides this capacity through mobile phones (you call a number which corresponds to your answer - to an engaged signal for free) or through the web (like SurveyMonkey, but CC).

In my lectures of about 460 students, VotApedia is perfect for providing 'the worm'. But I have also found it useful to gauge opinions about almost anything. It took me about two minutes to set up a quick web survey today to investigate respondents' views on Net etiquette on a particular application. Poor survey design on my part, but an interesting experiment nonetheless.

The CSIRO is one of the more successful Australian statutory authorities. Statutory authorities have been one of the more useful innovations in the Australian political system. The approach should have been used to deploy the NBN. Regardless, the CSIRO deserves credit for the work it does. Often overlooked and undervalued, but certainly at the bleeding edge of innovation in Australia.

And it is pleasantly public. Well done, CSIRO, and more of the budget to you!