This is what the internet is all about: pocket-sized teen blogger Tavi Gevinson

The recent economic "come all ye" forum (as Michael O'Leary described it) at Farmleigh brought the great and the good of Irish business together to try to fix Ireland.

In an address, Taoiseach Brian Cowen emphasised the role technology would play in making Ireland a smart economy.

Sorry Taoiseach, you must be joking. We don't even have a proliferation of smart homes never mind getting the economy technologically pimped.

For at least a decade (if not longer) the government has been banging on about making Ireland some sort of international digital hub. Despite these haughty visions we have achieved very little in getting to this technological wonderland.

All we've done is invite numerous multinational companies into Ireland and piggy back on their success when we should have been encouraging and incubating an indigenous tech sector.

At a separate event – the annual Telecommunications and Internet Federation conference, held this week – former head of British telecoms regulator Ofcom Stephen Carter said when it comes to rolling out next-generation infrastructure, you have to be realistic and a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking. "If you don't have a coherent plan, move on and think of something else."

Carter also said several avenues lead to the smart economy but the most common themes are "infrastructure, infrastructure and infrastructure". And here is Ireland's problem in relation to building a smart economy. Infrastructure in this instance means next-generation networks (NGNs).

Despite Comreg's protestations to the contrary, our current broadband situation is dire. In the developed world, Ireland invests the least amount of money, as a percentage of GDP, in telecommunications.

With this in mind, how on earth are we going to roll out NGNs properly and uniformly to support the smart economy?

The Department of Communications and Comreg have no clear strategy on how NGNs will roll out. Comreg even released a consultation document asking what NGNs are. If the regulator doesn't know, the rest of us will be hard pressed to answer that one.

Part of the plan of the smart economy is also to encourage more technological and scientific research and development. The problem here is very little R&D gets commercialised. This means millions of euro could be flushed away in the hunt for a feasible product.

Commentators have also pointed out that upping the ante in R&D could turn the third-level institutions not only into brain sweatshops but precipitate the break out of collegiate internecine warfare.

Let's step back from third- to second-level. There been a big drop in the number of pupils studying science and IT-related subjects, and the aptitude for maths has, if failure rates are anything to go by, hit a serious low.

Who will staff these R&D thinktanks? Will we have to rely on technology-savvy immigrants? And how will we attract them to a country that, in an effort to get itself out of the economic hole it's in, is penalising the most vulnerable and needy in society. Not the best environment for foreign graduates who want to settle with their families.

The Taoiseach's comment that in building a smart economy there "won't be overnight results – but there can be, and will be, successes over the period ahead" is proof the smart economy is all mouth and trousers – another document drawn up by civil servants and technocrats that sounds nice but ultimately has no direction.

We need dates and milestones because the "period ahead" is the calendar equivalent of investigating the length of a piece of string.

An internet tale of rags and riches and levelling the playing field

My favourite IT story of the week highlights the potential of the internet for being the great social leveller. How else would a 13-year-old girl hold the fashion world in her thrall?

Planet fashion is, for the most part, populated by pompous snobs, liggers and hangers-on. Yet American blogger Tavi Gevinson, a pocket-sized teenage fashionista with a sharp eye for style and not too shabby with words, now finds herself being wooed by the cream of the fashion industry. Much in the same way as Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool site caught the movie world's attention.

She recently attended New York's fashion week, was courted by the rag trade's top designers and attendant glitterati, and will soon be writing her first paid work in a fashion magazine.

This is what the internet is all about – democratic technology levelling the playing field and giving those who might have been excluded from commenting on rarefied subjects, such as fashion, a voice.