Bletchley Park's new management chucks out long-term volunteers


#1

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#2

While it's sad that the volunteers were dismissed, who's to say they can't organize free guided tours of Bletchley Park themselves as members of the public? People would absolutely still seek them out for their knowledge and enthusiasm of the subject matter. And while I can understand the guide getting emotional about the story needing to be told, the fact that the site is being resurrected and heavily invested in is a good sign that that's exactly what they will continue to do, albeit (ideally) in a way that will bring more attention and hopefully encourage new generations to take part. If done right, it would be a wonderful starting place to teach kids about the ideas of cryptography and computing, with interactive exhibits and group lectures, etc. It can be much more than just an artefact that attracts history buffs and local bored people. At the same time, this is all very old equipment, and for it to last, people shouldn't be walking up to it and typing on it (!). Working replicas can be made for people to interact with, with blown up diagrams of the functionalities, and explanations of how it was all so damn clever. So many possibilities! So, uh, have some faith?


#3

I've always dreamt of Bletchley getting enough funding to do the site and its collection justice

Seems there's always some jerks available to provide the infrastructure support for the "Be careful what you wish for - you might get it" crowd.


#4

While I suspect that the old guard can go undercover, what is particularly worrisome (and not fixed, even if nobody goes full metal busybody and starts kicking out all 'unauthorized tour operators' or something) is that HQ has a bold, exciting, plan for the future that apparently involves purging an enthusiastic and knowledgeable set of people who had been committed to the site before it had money or recognition.

It's...a trifle difficult... to think of good plans that start with 'Voluntarily inflict substantial brain-drain' and go from there. Perhaps they've found one; but the odds aren't fantastic.


#5

I went to Bletchley a few years ago and it was great. I liked the fact that it was a bit quirky, and that the people there really knew what they were talking about. Seems like it is turning into a theme park...

Is there anything to be done? Enough bad press might get a change in heart, but I doubt it sadly...

Also really weird that this video is in you tube, but not onnthe main BBC web page!


#6

It should be noted that McAfee the person supports Snowden while McAfee the company acts as an extension of the US and UK governments.


#7

This is unfortunately a symptom of bureaucratic officialdom. The new people want it to make it about themselves and their personal legacy rather than the history they are charged with preserving.

A new modern multimedia dumbed down exhibit? How exciting, a way to engaqe the yoof, much better than those rusty old fossils. Plus at least some of the budget can likely be misappropriated towards personal gain.


#8

Corporate and State funding means towing their ideological line. Thus, instead of computers fighting fascism, you have computers fighting Terrorism.. You are watching a revision of history taking place.


UK National Museum of Computing trustees publish damning letter about treatment by Bletchley Park trust
#9

So, suits vs nerds...There used to be a nerd museum and the suits want to make it more like something that THEY"D be interested in.


#10

Pretty much sums it up. Ah look, we read the same blog daily so we're preaching to the choir. What would it take to do something that would make a difference?


#11

This is yet further evidence to support my working theory that

A ∝ tan$, where A = arseholery.

It should also be noted that having John McAfee in your corner probably isn't worth a whole lot aside from teh interweb kewl points...


#12

Maybe someone can start curating a categorised tally of our grievances at the hands of the klepto-corporate fascist hegemony, for a start? A brief run-through of the state of play to help a few apathoids wake the fuck up?

As for what to do about it once we have a meaningful number of seriously pissed off folks who can't stand seeing this collective madness extrapolated, check out what @William_Holz has to say.


#13

This is pretty sad I'm sure he was a great volunteer, it seems to coincide with this article on [Miltonkeynes.co.uk][1] where it mentions they have outsourced the customer service to "Welcome host gold". I know I'd certainly prefer a tour from someone with a personal interest and experience over someone who fits a set of predetermined bullet points.


#14

Add money to anything and it will destroy it. It happens when businesses get taken over too.


#15

(a) That is a beautifully written line.

(ii) I don't really agree with you. I think it's just a bit more banal than that. Corporate culture invites corporate responsibility. Corporations are scrutinised, and just because this is a site of historic interest, and ostensibly a charitably run one, doesn't mean they don't have to account for eg public liability insurance, workers rights and the nightmare balancing act of having paid and unpaid workers doing the same job - that last alone probably blows the idea of retaining the former volunteers as volunteers out of the water.


#16

That not exactly helpful. John McAfee is the loony who fled the US to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit and has now fled Belize after going in hiding after his neighbor was murdered. The company that used to bear his name has been renamed Intel Security. He is unfortunately a paranoid loon.

I don't quite see the lack of mention of Snowden in the exhibit to be a problem. The story is less than 9 months old and we don't know all of it yet. It isn't history, it is current affairs. It would take several years to curate a proper exhibit. We are still searching through the stuff.

I certainly can't see Intel/McAfee being the reason behind the lack of mention of Snowden either. Sir John Scarlett, the guy in the video was former head of the SIS (aka MI6). It wouldn't be pressure from a US company stopping him mentioning Snowden, thats pretty clear. Blaming the sponsors seems rather bad form to me.

The far larger hole in the planned history exhibition is what was done with Colossus after WWII. The frames were all broken up with great display but they were quickly replaced and used to break codes for the next thirty years. East Germany was still using the Enigma machine when the story came out in Khan's book.

I strongly suspect that the descendants of the ULTRA machines enabled the NSA and GCHQ to break the codes of Iran, Greece and many other countries where the CIA replaced emerging democracies with vicious dictators. The 1953 coup in Iran in particular has doomed the whole region to dictatorship for two generations. Hundreds of thousands were murdered in Latin America during the Kissinger years. And none of it made any sense strategically or politically.


#17

As it says in the video made by BBC, the problem is these volunteers and the public will not be allowed in the computer room any more. They will instead be shown some Disney style contraptions.


#18

How is that not helpful? The posting was ambiguous as to if it was referring to McAfee the person or McAfee the company. Since McAfee the company has been renamed but McAfee the person hasn't, the post is bordering on misleading rather than merely ambiguous. Whether McAfee the person is a loon or not has no bearing on whether or not the use of McAfee in the post is ambiguous. Had this occurred two years ago when McAfee the person was pretty much unknown, any mention of McAfee would be assumed to refer to the company. But since he has become a well known personality, loony or not, the name McAfee is not enough on its own to determine which entity is being referred to.


#19

How do all the big museums in the US handle it? The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, for example, has a large paid staff, and a large staff of volunteers. And it's not limited to large institutions like the Met -- just about any (US) museum I've ever heard of has both paid and volunteer staff.


#20

Not exactly helpful to Snowden or the cause. McAfee is unfortunately an embarrassment.

I am rather surprised people assume this. The only evidence we have of the decision coming from Intel is a rather tangential comment from the Bletchley Park management. I am not sure what level the decision to sponsor would be taken in Intel but I am pretty sure that whoever took the decision would not be the type who would lecture the former head of MI6 on what was appropriate to put in the display.

Intel would hardly be the origin of the concern, if they did intervene it would be because of pressure from the NSA. Now why on earth would the NSA try to influence the former head of NSA through Intel when Alexander, Clapper and the rest have known him personally for decades?

And why would the NSA care so much about an exhibit in the UK anyway? Wouldn't it be rather more logical to go after people like me who are writing crypto schemes that are designed to negate the NSA programs? Its not like they are unaware of what we are up to.

Boing Boing has a habit of going off with less than a full analysis of the available facts. The approach seems to be that if it should be true, it must be true. The narrative of big corporation censors exhibition is well established so they assume thats the right one.

The problem with the NSA spying is that it is indiscriminate and not focused on terrorism. It is a dragnet that pulls up everything and the people at the top of the organization are military officers who have a noticeable contempt for civilian politicians. Even if Alexander and Clapper aren't up for introducing martial law in the US should the opportunity arise, their predecessors in office engaged in a series of coups that did nothing for US security and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.