July 19, 2009
Is "Digital Britain" Report A Faux Geek Charter?Grrr. Moan. Grumble.
Don't get me started on so-called Digital Britain. It's bad enough that the Interweb is full-to-bursting with self-styled Faux Geeks, who are actually journalists, graphic designers, TV producers and business "visionaries" (i.e., bullshit merchants) with iPhones, and not real geeks at all, banging on about "Web 2.0", "Social Media", "Mash-ups", "Hackathons" and all manner of buzzwordy-but-ultimately-meaningless drivel.
But now it looks as though these people are setting the agenda for my country's digital future. And it's a future of 2Mbps broadband for every consumer and digital TV on your toaster oven and socialized media where today's bloggers and vloggers and sloggers and ploggers will be tomorrow's News At Ten and blah blah blah blah blah oh-why-won't-it-ever-end?
First of all, the fact that you know how to use Photoshop and post a Tweet does NOT make you a technologist, any more than taking aspirin makes you a doctor. Millions of people use computers every day. They do not call themselves "geeks" and were not consulted on Britain's strategic digital future. The fact that you've been able to customise your Twitter background image and uploaded a video to YouTube does not make you Alan f***ing Turing.
Napoleon once called Britain a "nation of shopkeepers". I suspect were he around today he would call us a "nation of users". We don't seem at all interested in making software, just applying the software that's made for us. It's sad and vexing to see people making claims like "I'm a geek" just because they've learned how to move files on to their iPod Touch. (Yes, I blame Apple for a lot of this "Geek Chic" crap.)
Nobody involved with Digital Britain seems, even for one second, to have stopped to ask the question: "but who is going to write all this new software that's going to power Digital Britain?" Oh, sorry. My bad. It's not software, it's "content", isn't it? Silly me, I completely forgot. Digital Britain is all about delivering digital content. Magically. Without the need for any computer programs to make it actually happen.
Indeed, without the need for computer hardware on which to run those computer programs, obviously, since Digital Britain sees no need to address the design and manufacture of digital devices, either.
Digital Britain paints a chilling picture of a nation of artists and writers and musicians and entrepreneurs creating exciting "digital content" using software written "somewhere else" and running on hardware created "somewhere else", and the UK computing industry doesn't seem to get a look in. Writing software and developing computer hardware is not important. It is a trifling detail.
Which would go some way to explaining the attitudes of many IT managers and software development customers. "Oh, our web designer's finished the wireframes, so that's all the real thinking done. Now we just need to get a troupe of chimpanzees to code it up and you'll have it deployed by teatime".
Posted 17 hours, 6 minutes ago on July 19, 2009