Everyday Computing, Features

Nothing Matters

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

THERE has been much ado over the government’s plan to reduce to zero the annual subvention enjoyed by the National Trust in the budget. A visit to the Trust’s website reveals not only some stunning images of our beautiful landscape, but details of a membership organization whose mandate is the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the country. Even more proudly featured are details of its patron, Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor General of Saint Lucia, encouraging us to join its efforts to protect the country’s rich patrimony.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Finance justified the reduction in the subvention as part of the difficult decisions needed to manage the country’s financial situation. Given our tough economic times, the ability to shave $700,000 from government spending would be a very useful exercise. But at what cost? This change threatens the very existence of our National Trust. The question arises: If the Trust loses its subvention, could it recover?

The litterbugs among us foolishly discard empty bottles and litter the countryside, but they don’t know. Do you know the value of the number zero, of the empty, of nothing? An empty quantity, in mathematical, physical, and computing terms, can be tremendously useful and powerful. To system developers, terms like null and void are common. What happens when you delete a file from your computer system? It goes away and the space it occupied is reclaimed for more work.

A few more examples:
1) There is a wise saying that no news is good news;
2) A stable and well-running system exhibits zero-change;
3) In decision-making, the ‘do nothing’ option must be considered.

When we use our computers, we expect error-free operation, which is normally the case. If your computer desktop is decluttered of the usual distractions, then you may work in a more focussed manner and get even more done.

When the effective strength of your Trust is eroded, you can still make a difference. Even apparently-hopeless conditions are the breeding ground for greatness and revival since we must all start from somewhere. In an epic battle over funding and survival, it is worth reflecting on the powerful writing of Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10, who encouragingly says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” If you didn’t know it before, the power of zero is unity!

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, capacity building, and policy development.

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