Number 8 Wire & Why Kiwis Will Conquer the Internet

 

New Zealand natives (‘Kiwis’) are pioneers.

While Australians were forcibly sent over to their new home as prisoners (that were clogging up Britain’s prison system), Kiwis were adventure-seekers who were looking for new opportunities in a new land. They came here willingly.

And to this day, it shows.

There’s a fun little phrase in Kiwi called ‘number 8 wire,’ which is usually used to describe a method of making something work using what’s at hand; the can-do mentality that people hereabouts tend to have.

You could say, for instance, that Joe has a number 8 wire mentality, which would mean that Joe is an industrious sort of fellow.

It’s this ingenuity – this ability to rig together anything that’s needed – that I believe will set New Zealand atop the online business side of the online world.

In 5 or 6 years, that is. Let me explain.

If you look at the kinds of people who are currently successful in the entrepreneurial sphere, you’ll find go-getters with big ideas who have found a need they can meet or a gap they can fill. They are problem solvers who are adept at identifying problems and solving them before (or better) than anyone else.

The kind of person who has this ability is few and far between in a country like the US, and yet we have one of the better success rates for establishing and incubating entrepreneurs to their full potential. Go us!

Just think if you had a whole COUNTRY full of people like that. People who are problem solvers who have a knack for finding the right solution to problems AND can rig together whatever they need to get the job done. Sound like anyone I mentioned above?

That’s right, the Kiwis have an absolutely ideal culture for the online world.

They’re innovative, they’re practical, they’re adaptable and they are action-oriented. And they do all of this naturally, because it comes with the territory.

Not only that, but they have a relatively small, relatively isolated testing ground for any new product or application they come up with. There are a little over 4 million people in New Zealand, and they snatch up new products and trends as quickly as they arrive here. They’re behind when it comes to social media, but that will all change soon.

Until then, though, the big thing holding Kiwis back from their position on top of the online world is their crappy, crappy Internet service.

The Internet is mostly capped, here. For those of you who don’t know what this means (I didn’t, until I heard about them trying to do it in the States and swiftly being rebuked) is that you generally don’t pay a flat fee for unlimited Internet each month. Instead, you pay for, say, 3 gigs of downloads per month, and once you use that up you either get moved to a DRAMATICALLY slower connection, or your net gets cut off completely (I, unfortunately, am faced with the latter plan).

The pricing is even worse for mobile plans. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a dearth of smartphones…it’s just too expensive, and the network too unreliable.

It’s bad, people. Much worse than most of the 3rd world countries I’ve been to. And it’s a result of a competition-stopping duopoly and one old, crusty cable carrying packets of information along the ocean floor.

But this may be fixed in the next few years. There are plans making their way around the political circles in New Zealand that would lay an extensive amount of fiber-optic cable across the country. Further, some politicians and companies are hoping to stretch another cable from the US to NZ in order to speed up the overall amount of information they can transmit simultaneously.

The results of these two actions would be massive, and the only thing that could possibly make it better would be to have another Internet service provider in the country (which would likely happen, if these new plans became realities).

As soon as Kiwis have access to cheap, dependable, always-on Internet, their strong culture and pioneer roots will put them in an ideal spot to innovate the hell out of the online world.

Let’s just hope the politicians and business-people here see this for the opportunity it is and make the right choices.

31 comments

  1. I think Finland and its citizens is going to be on a cutting edge of that competition very soon as well. Not only are they full of industrious people as well, but they have proven to adopt technologies faster than almost any other country and just recently it became the first country in the world where all of its citizens have a legal right to free fast speed internet connection. Just my prediction :)

  2. I think Finland and its citizens is going to be on a cutting edge of that competition very soon as well. Not only are they full of industrious people as well, but they have proven to adopt technologies faster than almost any other country and just recently it became the first country in the world where all of its citizens have a legal right to free fast speed internet connection. Just my prediction :)

  3. Sounds like you are getting really involved in the culture! Hopefully, all the things you mention will come true. World in general needs people with such mentality.

  4. Sounds like you are getting really involved in the culture! Hopefully, all the things you mention will come true. World in general needs people with such mentality.

  5. I would love to see more people getting involved with this stuff. We need more cultures influencing the internet, providing their own unique perspectives and innovations!

  6. I would love to see more people getting involved with this stuff. We need more cultures influencing the internet, providing their own unique perspectives and innovations!

  7. It sounds like you’re enjoying the Kiwi culture. Perhaps they will be the leaders of the “online business side of the online world.” It’s awesome that you’re learning this because you’re over there. It really shows the value of travel.

  8. It sounds like you’re enjoying the Kiwi culture. Perhaps they will be the leaders of the “online business side of the online world.” It’s awesome that you’re learning this because you’re over there. It really shows the value of travel.

  9. Agreed! It’s remarkable how much slower the connection becomes after the cut-off time. NZ, from what I’ve seen so far, has a great infrastructure…all the pieces are there, but you’re right, a few tweaks would drastically improve the entrepreneurial landscape here.

  10. Agreed! It’s remarkable how much slower the connection becomes after the cut-off time. NZ, from what I’ve seen so far, has a great infrastructure…all the pieces are there, but you’re right, a few tweaks would drastically improve the entrepreneurial landscape here.

  11. Interesting post. Here in the UK as broadband usage has increased we’ve seen internet connections move from unlimited and uncapped to capped and crappy, with added traffic shaping at peak times. Between 5pm and 11pm YouTube stops working properly. We’re heading backwards. I hope the Kiwi’s can find a better way.

  12. Interesting post. Here in the UK as broadband usage has increased we’ve seen internet connections move from unlimited and uncapped to capped and crappy, with added traffic shaping at peak times. Between 5pm and 11pm YouTube stops working properly. We’re heading backwards. I hope the Kiwi’s can find a better way.

  13. Just a correction, you don’t get “cut off” after you go over your cap, you just get charged a HUGE amount of overage. (Think $3-$20 per GB “block”)..

    And the Southern Cross cable isn’t exactly old.. there’s craploads of bandwidth there. It’s just that Telecom NZ (the incumbant) owns 50% of it and ISPs are too cheap to buy more capacity on it. (Or maybe not cheap, but bandwidth on the SXS is _expensive)

  14. Just a correction, you don’t get “cut off” after you go over your cap, you just get charged a HUGE amount of overage. (Think $3-$20 per GB “block”)..

    And the Southern Cross cable isn’t exactly old.. there’s craploads of bandwidth there. It’s just that Telecom NZ (the incumbant) owns 50% of it and ISPs are too cheap to buy more capacity on it. (Or maybe not cheap, but bandwidth on the SXS is _expensive)

  15. I thought you would be interested to know (if you don’t already?) that the #8 wire saying comes about because it is the standard gauge used down at the farm for fencing.

    Also I’ve reposted your entry to Geekzone as I’m sure many others there will find this of interest too.

  16. I thought you would be interested to know (if you don’t already?) that the #8 wire saying comes about because it is the standard gauge used down at the farm for fencing.

    Also I’ve reposted your entry to Geekzone as I’m sure many others there will find this of interest too.

  17. @Mikko: I was just talking about Finland with a Kiwi friend today, and he was really enthused about your approach to the Internet! Let’s see how many other countries follow suit!

    @Alejandro: I agree, the more different viewpoints and approaches and people we can get involved, the better our answers will be.

    @Eric: Couldn’t be more true!

    @Mneiae: It is amazing the kind of stuff that you learn in situ, while you’d likely never read about it sitting at home (well, except here! Ha!)

    @Alan: Yup, and it’s only just tweaks, which is why it’s such a shame it hasn’t been handled already. Everything else is amazing.

    @Shaun: No kidding! I had no idea things were regressing like that over there. We really just need to build things better from the start so they are easier to upgrade in the future as it becomes possible and necessary. New Zealand, take note!

    @DanielR: You may not get cut off at your place, but I certainly do! I know the plans are all over the map (even dial-up is available!), but it’s really good to know more about the Southern Cross. Is it shared just between NZ and Ozzies, or does it fan out to all the smaller islands, as well (as opposed to going to NZ/OZ and THEN going to the small islands)?

    @David Peterson: I actually heard that when I originally came across the saying. Kiwis are very self-analytical, and I’m fascinated by the various phrases used to describe themselves (Tall Poppy syndrome is getting its own post later this week).

  18. @Mikko: I was just talking about Finland with a Kiwi friend today, and he was really enthused about your approach to the Internet! Let’s see how many other countries follow suit!

    @Alejandro: I agree, the more different viewpoints and approaches and people we can get involved, the better our answers will be.

    @Eric: Couldn’t be more true!

    @Mneiae: It is amazing the kind of stuff that you learn in situ, while you’d likely never read about it sitting at home (well, except here! Ha!)

    @Alan: Yup, and it’s only just tweaks, which is why it’s such a shame it hasn’t been handled already. Everything else is amazing.

    @Shaun: No kidding! I had no idea things were regressing like that over there. We really just need to build things better from the start so they are easier to upgrade in the future as it becomes possible and necessary. New Zealand, take note!

    @DanielR: You may not get cut off at your place, but I certainly do! I know the plans are all over the map (even dial-up is available!), but it’s really good to know more about the Southern Cross. Is it shared just between NZ and Ozzies, or does it fan out to all the smaller islands, as well (as opposed to going to NZ/OZ and THEN going to the small islands)?

    @David Peterson: I actually heard that when I originally came across the saying. Kiwis are very self-analytical, and I’m fascinated by the various phrases used to describe themselves (Tall Poppy syndrome is getting its own post later this week).

  19. I had to smile (a little ruefully) upon reading this article, because the can-do attitude you’re describing is exactly what we’ve idolized as the American ideal – and yet we’re not even close to living up to it. Seems like NZ is doing it better.

  20. I had to smile (a little ruefully) upon reading this article, because the can-do attitude you’re describing is exactly what we’ve idolized as the American ideal – and yet we’re not even close to living up to it. Seems like NZ is doing it better.

  21. Spain did something similar when I lived there, you got up to 10gb of download and then it basically was worse than dial up. But, they got rid of it once they noticed everyone was going over.

    I gotta get to NZ sometime. I’ve got a friend who lives there who I haven’t seen in years.

  22. Spain did something similar when I lived there, you got up to 10gb of download and then it basically was worse than dial up. But, they got rid of it once they noticed everyone was going over.

    I gotta get to NZ sometime. I’ve got a friend who lives there who I haven’t seen in years.

  23. @colin:
    See http://www.southerncrosscables.com/public/Network/default.cfm

    It basically lands at Hawaii and Fiji on the way to NZ/AU The “loop” is for redundancy.. Ie, if one cable gets cut, data goes the other way.

    You can get various kinds of plans. I guess you get the “cut off” ones (I haven’t seen those before?), the “slow down” plans that slow you down to 64k/64k after you go over your cap. There’s ones that will auto-bill you for another data block (Of various sizes, 1GB-10GB, depending on the ISP). There’s also one from xnet that just charges you per MB. (Works out at $1.02/GB) ie, they only charge you for what you use. Which I find works out a lot better than caps, since you don’t have to worry about “not using it all” or blowing past it and being charged a crapload more.
    (I’ve had friends with a 30GB cap, they have ~10GB left and blow through that in a few days, but they go over, so they get charged another $20 for another 10GB, which they’d have to use in a few hours! It’s dumb)

  24. @colin:
    See http://www.southerncrosscables.com/public/Network/default.cfm

    It basically lands at Hawaii and Fiji on the way to NZ/AU The “loop” is for redundancy.. Ie, if one cable gets cut, data goes the other way.

    You can get various kinds of plans. I guess you get the “cut off” ones (I haven’t seen those before?), the “slow down” plans that slow you down to 64k/64k after you go over your cap. There’s ones that will auto-bill you for another data block (Of various sizes, 1GB-10GB, depending on the ISP). There’s also one from xnet that just charges you per MB. (Works out at $1.02/GB) ie, they only charge you for what you use. Which I find works out a lot better than caps, since you don’t have to worry about “not using it all” or blowing past it and being charged a crapload more.
    (I’ve had friends with a 30GB cap, they have ~10GB left and blow through that in a few days, but they go over, so they get charged another $20 for another 10GB, which they’d have to use in a few hours! It’s dumb)

  25. Pingback: Tall Poppy Syndrome and the Jealousies | Exile Lifestyle

  26. I’ve heard lots of fascinating stories from WWII about American’s vs Kiwis. For instance: GI’s would be driving along in their jeep when it “breaks”, they’re forced to abandon it. A little while later some Kiwi soldiers (ANZACs) come across the jeep. They fiddle around with it for a few minutes, then presto they drive away in their spanking brand new jeep! :-D

  27. I’ve heard lots of fascinating stories from WWII about American’s vs Kiwis. For instance: GI’s would be driving along in their jeep when it “breaks”, they’re forced to abandon it. A little while later some Kiwi soldiers (ANZACs) come across the jeep. They fiddle around with it for a few minutes, then presto they drive away in their spanking brand new jeep! :-D

  28. I think you are totally right Colin. I loved the Kiwi’s creative approach to business as soon as I arrived. Their ads are cheekier and more playful, their signage is more clever. Businesses in New Zealand strike me as much more earnest and creative than I’m used to in Canada.

    Unfortunately you are also right about the internet situation. I’m paying ten cents a megabyte here for wifi. I hadn’t thought of it until I read this post but I imagine it’s a big bottleneck on business.

  29. I think you are totally right Colin. I loved the Kiwi’s creative approach to business as soon as I arrived. Their ads are cheekier and more playful, their signage is more clever. Businesses in New Zealand strike me as much more earnest and creative than I’m used to in Canada.

    Unfortunately you are also right about the internet situation. I’m paying ten cents a megabyte here for wifi. I hadn’t thought of it until I read this post but I imagine it’s a big bottleneck on business.

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