Don’t worry, Paul Graham, Australians aren’t all stupid


blog Over on Hacker News, the official new century media organ of double plus fine seed funding giant Y Combinator, founder Paul Graham muses about a little nation we like to call ‘Oz’. Quoth the coding legend:

“Why is it that 90% of the stories we hear involving Australia and technology are about stupid moves by the government? Is there something unique about Australia?”

Answers revolved from the fact that we have a particularly stupid government (debatable) to the flat out insane idea that Australia “cannot successfully combine technology and entrepreneurship like the US”, and even the fact that Graham himself is stupid for not noticing that the article he linked to on Hacker News is itself ancient (2009).

Well, we’ve got a message for you, Mr Graham, and your merry little band of hackers (who we admire greatly, by the way). I’m really happy for you, I’m a let you finish, but Australia has one of the best technology sectors of all time. And even Kanye West knows that.

Not only do we have our politicians well under control — knocking back Conroy’s internet filter to the dark ages where it came from and last week approving plans to roll out fibre optic cable to every goddamn neighbourhood down under — but we have even have our own Y Combinator — with hookers and blackjack.

And guess who’s partially funding it? You are. That’s right — US venture capitalists, the ones who gave a hot little local startup called Atlassian (you know, the one whose tools all your coders rely on for that agile goodness and will shortly be listing on urz stock exchange) $60 million in cash, part of which will now be funnelled into more great Aussie startups courtesy of Startmate.

Wait, wasn’t Startmate on Hacker News like a couple of months ago? That’s right. All your traffic belong to Delimiter. Word.

So before you go dissing Australia, you might want to consider who’s your daddy. I mean, we might have politicians who talk about “spams and scams coming through the portal”. But it was a US Senator who once described our lovely fertile internet as “a series of tubes”.

Epilogue: There’s a reason they call this a blog entry and not a news article. Because we can use words like “diss”. Go figure.

Image credit: MTV, believed to be usable under fair use


  1. Superb comeback!! That kind of ignorant shit makes my blood boil.

    Mr rant is a bit OT, but there’s been the same type of absurd comments going on at Engadget in their coverage of the split of Telstra. Many Americans there were perceiving the NBN as nothing more than evil socialist government controlled agenda, that will end up “just like “China”. They don’t have any understanding of the wholesale structure of the NBN at all, and have the paranoid mentality that “you cant trust the government to get anything right”. Mind you I’m sure these are the same type of minimalist government nut-cases that you see waving tea party banners around at the moment.

    All this will be so funny in 5 years time, as Australia continues to roll out one of the fastest and most sophisticated networks in the world. As it is now we already leave American in the dust when it comes to our mobile networks (look at the speed, coverage and reliability of Telstra compared to AT&T for instance!) and in a few years time it will be the same for fixed line broadband as well.

    There are many things our government has made a mess of, but find me a government that hasn’t fucked some major things up. Call me naive, but even from someone who has a supreme lack of confidence in Senator Conroy, for some reason I think the government’s is going to get it right with the NBN. I couldn’t be a more proud supporter of the direction our government is taking with broadband at the moment and I cringe when I think of what would be happening now had the Coalition won the election..

  2. Pretty sure you are missing the point here Renai; and from the tabloidesque headline I expect that is deliberate. But I’ll bite anyway.

    PG didn’t say Australians aren’t stupid; you are saying that.

    If you follow HN (or any other overseas tech news feed) then you will be aware that most news stories about Australia AND Government (in the same story) cover ill-advised government policies that usually have something to do with a moral crusade.

    It is simply a fact that the internet filter is THE big tech news about Australia, no one overseas cares about the NBN because most developed nations already have something better (

    And, yes. Australia DOES have a crappy human rights reputation on two points: 1) The Internet Filter and 2) Incarceration of Refugees.

    We may not realise this, here on our little island, but for these reasons we are judged.

    You refer to the internet filter as “dead”, but surely you are not ignorant enough to think that is really true?

    You even say PG is stupid, well more the fool you: (Forbes)


    • Hehe it certainly was deliberate — I am more or less taking the piss ;) I know and respect PG and broadly share his opinion (whether it was serious or not) about these sorts of stories — as I expect any serious technologist would.

      • Well that’s a relief. One reads so much tripe on the Internet that sarcasm is often indistinguishable from genuine animosity.

  3. Who is hiring American developers in Australia now, and will take care of the visa?

  4. I’m not one to jump on the patriotic bandwagon, but need to point out that CSIRO invented WIFI.

  5. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a stupider government than the USA’, and I’m an American! Our government is no longer about doing what’s best for the people – it’s about doing what’s best for lobbyists who lobby for big companies and for politician’s who’d rather see their political party win and the other one lose rather than do what’s right for the country.

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