Archive | March, 2011

The Big Society

27 Mar

A little departure from IPTV for the moment.

Having seen the demonstrations in London, having a family who is at the very centre of cuts and is feeling them daily, having my own business and trying to make a living as a small business, having all of this makes me think something is wrong, very wrong in our society today, morally bankrupt and possibly incapable of accepting this without a massive shift in thinking.

The big society is not such a bad idea, but the timing is pretty awful, so this now looks like a scheme to create public services on the cheap. The problem this government has is that we, the public, are distrustful and so we think the worst. In theory this sort of works but it has to be a BIG idea not just a few chosen words to the chosen few in the City of London.

I know people keep banging on about bonus culture, but that’s because they care. They care that people are struggling and the most well off continue on the tax payers gravy train. We keep going on about it, will someone finally realise that this won’t go away because you want it to, we keep going on about it because it drives a nail into the very heart the British sense of fair, this is not fair and cannot be justified. A minority of the country, in which we live, are still living in a post Thatcher era that welcomed greed and rewarded the ‘me’ culture,  everybody else has moved on, realised that our country was decimated by this, but still they continue with a ‘let them eat cake’ attitude. So why do marches and protest occur, go back and read the previous few lines.

So if we want a BIG society and if we REALLY want equality in opportunity then it has to be done in a manner that appeals to the unheard masses, to those who feel like they have no prospects, to the young adult who despite 100 letters still has no job, to the unemployed in the North East who feel all prospects are disappearing, to the likes of me who work really hard and receive little or no help. If you really want a big society then start doing and stop talking.

Lets start with dismantling big corporate outsourcing deals for local councils, schools, government etc. Lets make this much smaller units, answerable locally giving work to local business and people, who do actually care about the state of roads, schools and community. Do we really need a big multi-national repairing local roads, couldn’t local companies do this just as well, employing local people. Lets stop endorsing big companies who stifle innovation and remove any notion of competition, lets give local retailers incentives and big retailers diss-incentives for local stores, make buying retail property and land-banking it illegal, use it or lose it, a kind of Statutory of Road for retail. Re-invigorate our high streets with local shops selling local produce, not big faceless companies selling the same junk that no one knows what is in it. Lets reward those that do volunteer work with something that is not just a pat on the back.

All of this goes back to a book written in the seventies, whose time has come, Small is Beautiful, yes it is and it’s a way of mobilising people behind a renewed sense of worth, not just having a say or contributing but seeing the personal benefit for doing so, job creation, work satisfaction and long-term employment. All of this based around local, micro economics.

The City of London screwed up, should we forget, no absolutely not, not until they can finally wake up to what they have done to millions of families. Should labour be ashamed, yes they should, this was under your watch, you let greed take over and forgot your roots. We as a country should insist our government uses this to the advantage of the populus, ignore the premise that they will go if we keep chastising them, look at the mess they made! I say let them go! Use the profits of the big banks to fund your BIG society, lets see those ill-gotten gains used to improve the lives of the masses and used to improve the lives of our future children. Why shouldn’t the bank pay for updating the school I went to, that hasn’t changed for 30 years, this is our future, and our Government decides we can’t afford it, we simply can’t afford not to. Try this argument, don’t use massive multi-national contractors, the building trade is on its knees, use local companies, local brickies, plasterers, architects, scaffolders and decorators to do the work. Local companies with an interest in the job not just money.

There most certainly is another way but it will take politicians with foresight and the bollocks to challenge the status quo and MAKE it happen. There are few times when once in a generation opportunities arise, this is one of them, don’t squander it. If you do you will not just have marches and protests happening but an undercurrent of social dis-order for decades to come.

ipad, upad everybody pad

3 Mar

I wonder at times whether we in the technology industry create all the hooha around products and services and everyone else laughs at us, the death of one format the creation of another, predicting the downfall of certain technologies. it all seems just a little bit dramatic to me.

Lets just take print as an example, specifically newspapers. The iPad is now touted as the next big thing for newspapers and Apple are going to slice massive margin and the whole industry is in turmoil and the print page is dead and so on and so forth.

Now I’m not sure what the UK sales of iPad were but the global total is believed to be around 15m units, this is about the average daily sales of Newspapers in the UK, get that daily, just in the UK!! Now I’m no statistician but that doesn’t sound like an industry that is about to implode overnight, granted there is a clear threat but from those numbers I wouldn’t be expecting the press to go and tie up the noose just yet, surely. Is this just the Apple machine, once again, trying to make everyone nervous? The more you keep saying it then the more people believe and it then becomes an urban myth. I agree the web is eating some of the newspaper business, no doubt, and advertising is getting diverted but it still only 15m units globally which is a drop in the ocean. Are you seriously telling me that the 2m daily Sun readers are about to go and spend £500 on a gadget to read the paper, if anyone wants to take a bet then I’m willing to put my money up.

The iPad is another gadget. The only people I see with them are those that want to be seen with it, the ones that rest the gadget on the newspaper in the morning once they have read it! I think my children’s comments were interesting, when I tried to explain the ‘need’ for it, they just shrugged and said I’d rather have a book to read, it’s just a big iPod, small sample I know but it makes you think.

Now I’m the first in line for new gadgets if I were to be given the budget by my partner I’m sure we would have just about everything going but that’s all it is another gadget, that’s slim and looks good. The iPod I really got, great product, great idea, the Ipad….what for?

Are we in a danger here of living in our own little technology bubble and the outside world is looking in thinking what are they talking about. Why do intelligent people get hot under the collar about a computer, with no keyboard, it’s smacks of sheep being herded and grown ups should know better. And please , please don’t mention ‘game-changer’ this is not a game changer just as the e-reader wasn’t. Could this be a solution just looking for a problem?

Good luck to Apple, not that they need my appreciation, they clearly make great looking, desirable products, but don’t everyone rush to disassemble a whole industry because someone has brought out a shiny object.

Searching the myth

2 Mar

The technology industry is a wash with buzzwords and at the top of this bingo list is probably connected TV. There is a huge amount of smoke and mirrors out there, from UK companies claiming they have been involved in Kangaroo then you view when the business wasn’t even incorporated then, through to companies massively over-complicating searching for content on a TV.

The biggest thing for me at the moment is getting approached by a number of companies providing EPG information and ‘sophisticated search engines for TV’ you know who you are. They will make their money by selling ads and/or being paid by manufacturers to create a recommendation engine. The irony here is that the manufacturers haven’t quite yet realised it’s all smoke and mirrors, they need our content metadata to search, which we already provide to the TV, and they want it for free.

When will you realise this isn’t google! we are not talking about scraping hundreds of millions of web pages, organising this data, making it relevent and attaching this to ads with refined algorithms to make it an attractive proposition to joe public. We are talking about searching a few thousand, maybe a couple of tens of thousands of items, I would say currently a few thousand on all the platforms. This is really straight forwards, not complicated and not costly at all. Some of the 2011 connected TV ui’s put search at the heart of the service, but what for? there isn’t, and more importantly, never will be the volume of data that requires this. TV is lean-back show me what you’ve got, not lean forwards, providing the viewer with an intellectual exercise in searching for something.

So we are asked to give up our hard-earned data for free so someone else can place ads around it and make money, giving us nothing. Nice try guys but I think I may have seen through the plan. I just wish the manufacturers would as well.

Stop trying to create problems and business models where there aren’t any and start focusing on the viewer and their experience, if you don’t you will scare them off and you products will undoubtedly fail, get it right and you have a whole new world of revenue, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. .