All Hat and No Cattle

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The dust has settled, the purchasing office manager is reclining in a darkened room sipping herbal tea and chewing slowly on Anadin , chanting affirmations reminding himself he is doing the right thing. Boy ‘o boy this technology stuff can be very expensive , half of it is never used but we need it , right?

Only last month the 25th anniversary of Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum personal computer was celebrated, this innovation revolutionised the computer era and helped spawn the laptops, tablets and everything in between and around. No longer were computers the size of small houses and available only to clever chaps working for large industrial companies, now even ordinary people with a few hundred pounds of the Queens realm could join the ranks of the computer intelligentsia. Formerly quiet unassuming folk from all walks of life were fighting each other at the magazine stand trying to be the first to get the latest news and programming tips…yes, the previously dormant creative minds of the nation had be roused…and how!

Watch this shameless bit of nostalgia showing just what games we all fell in love with in the early days…..and just how far we have evolved!

So we come full circle, originally we were all trying to understand what went into making a piece of software, then we decided that we should not have to know….. and now , as we find we understand less and less about the fundamentals of the machine, we find the introduction of the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized £22 computer with no keyboard, monitor or case. It aims to give schoolchildren a chance to learn the basics of programming. Web developer Chris Cross looks at how easy it is to set up, browse the web and write code…..wouldn’t it be great to think that the production of content was approached in the same way?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/embed

Initially, the fashion was to write computer games , a strange little Italian painter ( or was he a plumber?) called Mario invaded our consciousness and changed the way we relaxed for ever. At this point in the evolution of personal computing and gaming , this was cutting edge. The great British pub was transformed by hoards of barely legal drinking aged teeneagers playing video games while they nursed a Coke for three hours, this was fad I remember hearing….really? Do you want to rethink that ? No need for me to chronicle the developments from those heady exciting days to today , if you are reading this, the chances are you are familiar with the early days. In the quest for greater speed and memory, for smaller computers and portability we have tended to neglect the development of what we do with these machines.There were times when what we did with them was simply because we could, not because we needed to. Today we use this descendant technology in all facets of our life without batting an eye. We have grown-up temper tantrums when anything goes wrong with them and we expect perfection when it comes to the execution of tasks performed by these machines. In a short 25 year period personal computing has emeshed itself in the fabric of our lives and infiltrated so many daily tasks that many of us use two simultaneously. Yes you do!!!! So, is the world a better place? Well, as with all instances of progress the jury is still out on that idea. Some things we have lost are the art of conversation when face to face, spelling and grammar are not only non-existent in many areas but almost scorned upon as restrictive in some.Many of us cannot perform mental arithmetic, remember a phone number, address or calendar date anymore. Few of us are confident reading a map, oh I could go on…….small price to pay do you think?

‘Trust me. If they do ban mobile phones in schools, you will gradually learn to speak without one.’   From UK’s Daily Mail newspaper: cartoonist Mac

I expect that within a few years we will see reports from chiropractors and physiotherapists detailing the rise in neck and spinal injuries cause by people walking around all day with the head tilted downwards while they play with the smart-phone…agghhh…progress! OK, I am having a bit of light-hearted banter , I love the progress and all the advancements we benefit from today BUT there is a serious point to this, one which I am particularly aware of…and it is this; there is too much emphasis on the device and not enough on the content. Remember when we were all convinced that cable-TV would bring hundreds of channels and greater choice? Well what did we get? Hundreds of channels and immense volumes of garbage, 150 channels of junk and perhaps 6 or 8 that were worth watching.You see the mere fact we have the ability to do something does not mean we should do something……if what you have is groundbreaking and innovative then sure, ‘knock yourself out’ . My beef is with the folks who think that they can assault your senses and sensibilities with drivel , pollute your home with filth and turn around and say ‘ if you don’t like it , you can always turn it off’……ooohhhhhh I want to scream when I hear that nonsense. Content has always been the story, always was and always will be…the Egyptians carved it on stone and built monuments to illustrate their story, the Mayans also and a whole host of cultures since…they spent years making sure they could communicate a handful of worthwhile stories so we might benefit. What legacy are we leaving , I wonder? Hundreds of millions of us have the ability to instantly communicate and effect others lives yet I fear we waste the opportunity more than we take it. In our small specific world, of content marketing and development, we at least should strive to produce the best product we can . Shiny toys be damned , they don’t matter at all…..it is what we do with them that matters, the craftsmen producing pieces of art and furniture have tools handed down from master to apprentice because they know that it is in the art of creation that we gain respect not in the showboating of the latest gadget.We might well have a lot of science being used to develop our business on a physical level and sometimes to explain elements of it but we must never forget that our business is an art. So when you see the piper as he attempts to lead you out of town to the precipice …think again; when you see the Emperor with no clothes on…tell him! 

see you on the long and winding road…….Patrick

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