The fax machine is almost a piece of history, like all office technologies it became ubiquitous, reached it zenith in the late nineties and has now become amalgamated in semi trailer cab size photocopiers.
Interestingly faxes were around before telephones but this is not a history lesson. It is a post about the redundancy of technology and a what if question.
What if Ms Gillard had been around in the late eighties, the time when I the company I had started out with installed their first fax machine. It was 1988 and the typists had gone to be replaced by Word Perfect and so had the comptometer people as we were now using Lotus 123 (backslash, w,c enter etc). Ms Gillard could have given every pensioner a fax machine and rolled out fax lines to everyone. We all would have been able to send letters to each other instantly, had built in answer phones, and our very own photocopier.
But it was not all sweetness and light. Some of still remember the panic of the early nineties when we realized the fax thermal image paper was fading, quick invent cheap laser fax machines. And there was the argument about the legality of faxes in contracts etc. But we did not know any better as we were at the cutting edge of technology or so we thought.
But if she had done the rollout it would have been an obvious mistake, email killed off letters and pdfs/scanning killed off fax machines.
Only a couple of months ago a very bright 22 year old commenced work with me. For some vague reason he had to fax a document to someone whose pc was down. The young bright spark had never used a fax and thought that nobody had them assuming everyone was like him on twitter, facebook, with ipad and iphone.
So the question is will the NBN which will take 9.5 years (their numbers not mine) assuming no delays, be redundant when it is fully rolled out. If it was such a good idea where is Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gate? They are not interested, mind you they were not interested in pink bats and solar panels.