Jim Higgins – A tribute
Jim Higgins passed away on 11 May. His wisdom, insights and humour will be sorely missed by many who encountered him during his 50 years of service to the IT community. His curiosity and infectious enthusiasm could never be supressed.
Jim’s achievements, as a creative leader in the embryonic New Zealand IT community are impressive but you won’t find them mentioned on LinkedIn.
Back in 1972, with no prior knowledge of formal computing, his tenacious efforts led to the founding of Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM), when he became the President and he continued to serve on ALGIM Board until 2022.
Jim was President, 1985-87 and a Fellow of New Zealand Computer Society (NZCS became ITP). He was also the second Chairman, 1997-99 and a Fellow, 2004 of the Internet Society of New Zealand (Internet NZ) and Domainz, leading to the formation of the Foundation to fund development of the internet, internet education and other valuable works.
He spent much of his time persuading many government and business leaders to understand the benefits of technology and to practise good governance, but he always found time to share an entertaining story with all of his colleagues.
ALGIM 1972 to 2022
Earlier this year ALGIM published an article, ‘Father & Founder of ALGIM’, on their website.
Jim’s first computer had 16k of memory. The next one had 32k, which he described as “being drunk with power”. The barcode reader at the library was the size of a piano.
Under Jim’s watchful eye, ALGIM grew from a few to 100% of Councils. And his brainchild, the ALGIM annual conference, was always a highlight for him. He could recall several challenges along the way.
“At one conference in Napier, they didn’t have a plan for the exhibition layout”. Jim received the plan over the phone and staff started in one corner directing exhibitors who did the layout themselves “scrapping amongst each other”.
At another conference in Rotorua there was a concept plan of the exhibition area provided by the hotel, but when the ALGIM team turned up, the area did not exist; it had not yet been built.
“We used the big foyer instead. We aged visibly but the delegates were oblivious.”
The 2010 NZCS publication “Return to Tomorrow” contains an insightful chapter by Jim on Computing in Local Government.
NZCS President 1985, and beyond
Elected President of NZCS in 1985, Jim became famous for his regular morning slot on National Radio which did a great deal to inform the public about IT matters and the ITP. During the following 20 years, he presented in close to 1,000 radio broadcasts, TV appearances, seminars, workshops and training sessions. His radio sessions can be accessed at Newstalk ZB sites (netedge.co.nz)
Jim became an NZCS Fellow, and, in 2000 the NZCS gave him an award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to NZ Public Sector Computing in the 20th Century.
His interest in promoting the use of technology in NZ resulted in his involvement in a wide range of IT associations, Industry Boards and Committees.
He was also a Trustee of TalkLink Trust from 1998 to 2010, Chairman of e-expert Developments Ltd and Owner of The Networking Edge Ltd. Homepage - The Networking Edge (netedge.co.nz)
The Internet society - Extract from the Internet Society website:
In May 1995, Jim was elected to the interim Council that established the Internet Society of New Zealand. He was then elected as the second Chair of the Society serving from 1997 to 1999. This was a period of dynamic growth in the Internet. He was faced with trying to develop the management of the NZ domain name space at a time when registrations were growing rapidly. There were inevitable problems that arose from the unpredictable external pressures the Internet growth generated. Jim's tremendous drive and energy saw the Society through this difficult period.
Jim vigorously represented NZ internationally at a time of significant restructuring of Internet governance. He established strong relationships with the global body; ISOC. His high profile in the IT world developed through his many public activities helped the Society to raise its profile both domestically and internationally.
Jim’s enthusiasm for technology also embraced classic war-time aircraft plus classic cars.
He achieved a private pilot licence and attended almost every classic fighter air show.
In his MG, with his grandkids enjoying the ride, he used to lead the Tawa and other Christmas Parades. Inevitably, he was elected (continuing until recently) as the Wellington MG Car Club President.
Whenever he could, Jim continued to stay involved with the Internet Society and ITP. He was available to provide advice and guidance on all things IT and Internet especially in the local watering hole on Waterloo Quay on a Friday afternoons where several local IT practitioners and friends met at end the week over a jar to wrestle with the urgent problems facing the world.
Rest in peace, Jim
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