Gurunathan: A silent revolutionary change

By K Gurunathan -
It's contended that online papers are losing media revenue and thus the ability to fund good journalism. Photo: Supplied.
It's contended that online papers are losing media revenue and thus the ability to fund good journalism. Photo: Supplied.

The last site of the Waikanae Lions Spring Garden Trail.

A tunnel of kohekohe embraces visitors like a birth channel. Into an immaculately fabulous setting centred by an expansive lily pond.

A pair of Canadian Geese had set up home raising two fluffy chicks.

In the middle of the pond is a life-size sculpture of an old couple sitting together. A comfortable love mellowed by the passing of time.

The scene framed the soul of Waikanae. A place to be a child, grow up to raise your own, be wizened and embrace your own mortality.

We left Anne Wendelken and Peter Zander's garden and head for a well-earned lunch at Relish Cafe across the rail tracks.

Over a flat white, I flip through the Saturday paper. Benchmarks of the silent but revolutionary change is scattered through the pages.

One talks of the coming of financial robo-advisers. Automated online services, driven by smart algorithms, that can replace costly human fund managers especially in the the area of retirement planning.

Another about busy parents resorting to a new online service where they can order school lunches for their kids.

Then there is the story of school students sitting for their first national exams online.
In the financial pages, a story about banks upgrading their online systems to suck up clients payments earlier than 'normal'.

In the business pages, a warning about international retail giants setting up online 'stores' in New Zealand. With growth online outstripping growth via actual stores, retail jobs are set to contract.

And, finally, a piece on the Commerce Commission's rejection of media giants Fairfax and NZME application to merge. Fairfax executive, Greg Hywood, criticises the rejection saying global search and social media giants were syphoning up media revenue without contributing to journalism.

I know what he is saying.

One of my favourite online papers, The Guardian, which is owned by a trust, has just stepped up appeals to its online readers to make contributions. Because, it says, online papers are losing media revenue and thus the ability to fund good journalism.

Going through 13 gardens in five hours earlier this month allows your mind's eye to not only pick out design patterns unique to each but also a template of what's common to all.

Flicking through the Saturday paper, the stories, once cobbled together, signal not just a silent revolution but the advent of a tsunami.

Do we, in little old Kapiti Coast, have the ability to surf this juggernaut of a wave?

How are our schools doing in teaching our children the art of learning in this digital age where artificial intelligence is projected to take over 46 per cent of the currently available jobs in the next 20 years.

Do we know or even care? Shall we just retire, tend our gardens, and let the new world order sort itself out?

- K Gurunathan is the Mayor of Kapiti.

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