Nostalgia; it ain’t what IT used to B2C
We Brits are really world-class at remembering, as the recent first-class Remembrance Day pageants show. While we religiously and quite rightly observe two minute silences, our US brethren tried to reclaim 1/11/11 as Binary Day with special numerological significance for the digital worker. The world it seems moves on faster than we ‘Little Englanders’ would like. “Don’t forget Bletchley” we blurt.
The sad passing of Steve Jobs should and could be a learning point for many in the UK tech media. His amazing devices, contained few true innovations, but perfectly captured the hearts and minds of wealthy UK consumers. This in turn created an unseemly rush for their ‘eyeballs’ which resulted in scant coverage of real British innovation (some of which, in the form, of ARM processors, appears in the iPhone itself).
Pleasingly, a senior national newspaper tech journalist shared her opinion that the rise of the gadget had led to a corresponding decline in ‘tech stories which mattered’. It was then a surprise to hear at least some coverage of the 60th anniversary of the ‘first ERP system’, used by the long defunct, but once legendary, Lyons Tea Company to calculate wages and tea room takings. The reality is that this was more perfect nostalgia, only coincidentally IT-related.
Some in the UK technology scene have seen the light. After Autonomy’s shareholders ‘sold the crown jewels to HP’, (a story which revealed just how uninterested the UK media is in technology compared to Westminster) the BBC’s coverage has picked up – albeit by trawling the same Cambridge campus which spawned Autonomy or the Government-backed and so over-hyped real estate of (ahem) Silicon Roundabout, where some chips are laced into cookies, but none fabricated into microprocessors.
Former Telegraph journo and one man contradiction, Milo Yianniopoulos, who lives in London and San Francisco and writes anti-porn, pro-gay, right wing prose, has been brave enough to ‘say what he sees’. His manifesto, carefully re-positioned ‘live’ in relation to a perhaps unfairly hostile reception from UK tech writers who feel underpaid for writing about the success of largely overseas companies, promises much, though it has yet to deliver.
Would some of the venom directed at this message of hope and change, perhaps have been better spent researching the UK’s new tech innovators? Looking for the UK’s Golden Geese, rather than admiring the Golden Eggs deposited across the ocean and into this island’s dying high streets from vast Asian container ships. Or should we just continue to electronically wire our wealth to the Eastern tech companies that increasingly look like tomorrow’s writers of IT history and mourn the passing of a Golden Age of British Tech?
Are we right to decry the celebration of the past and of the technology achievements of the past? Feel free to comment.