Tag Archives: BBC

I am a Socialist

Ed Miliband admitted live on BBC Radio 5 this morning that he is a socialist. Ever since, the news agenda has been exploring what he meant. Most people who follow British politics will know that Ralph Miliband, Ed’s father, was certainly a socialist. A true advocate of Marxism.

Even in the few seconds allotted to him on the radio, Ed Miliband managed to state that he doesn’t agree with his father’s vision of socialism. Ed’s father would be talking about the implementation of socialism requiring a working-class revolution, the government being controlled by the working-class and seizing all assets of production… and private property. Essentially creating an even distribution of wealth and work throughout the entire society.

It’s obvious that Ed Miliband is not advocating this form of socialism when he claims to believe in socialism. He is obviously believing in a sense of fairness in the interaction between the government and the citizen, the helping hand, the fair deal. If this is so obvious – that the modern-day left-wing interpretation of socialism by the Labour party is not quite the firebrand socialism of the past – then how come it’s taken over the media agenda today?

Energy Minister, Ed Milliband with Adam Boulton from Sky

Raise a glass to Douglas Adams on ’42’ day

I was in Malta recently talking to some government representatives and they mentioned how a big new IT park is opening in Malta on October 10th. I asked them why they would have the big launch party on a Sunday.

“10/10/10 – it’s binary, IT, understand!” they replied.

I understood the connection, and it’s a nice little idea to launch an IT venture on this date, just a shame it’s the weekend as journalists are hard enough to coax from their office, let alone from the pub during Sunday lunch.

But, I immediately converted the binary to denary and I realised it’s 42. So I replied to the business people talking about the IT park:

“You should make something of the fact that 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…

They didn’t understand me, or clearly have less enthusiasm for British science-fiction.

I thought I was the only one who had noticed this interesting little quirk of numbers, but when I googled it, I found that a few others have commented online – but not many. It still seems that there is not much awareness of the significance of this date.

I can vividly recall hearing that Douglas Adams had died in 2001 because I was in a bookstore in Bangalore and the manager of the shop rushed to tell me – just because I was the only English person in the store. I was back in there a couple of days later and we were talking about RK Narayan, who died that day. I thought that if I kept on returning to that bookstore I might kill off some more authors so I left it for a while before shopping there again.

How about raising a glass in memory of Douglas Adams on Sunday and toasting 42 on the Douglas Adams ‘binary’ day?

Douglas Adams - The Salmon of Doubt

When I’m 64…

I saw this BBC report on French protests about the retirement age being raised to 62. Of course, the typical French disdain for England is annoying – the same old stereotypes being dredged up by French protestors.

But the real point applies to France and England – and most of Western Europe equally – who is going to be paying the state pension by the time I ‘retire’? I personally think that the concept of the third age, rather than a retirement, will have become normal by the time I am 65.

By third age, I mean it will be normal to enter into a new career, to use your life experience working with a charity, or working on the local council… doing something useful that is still work and probably still pays something – though far less than you would have earned during your main career. But by that time most of us won’t have a need to support kids or a mortgage anymore, so income requirements should be more modest anyway.

What I don’t expect is that I can hit the age of 65 and suddenly put my feet up and retire from work, to live out the next 20 years on the golf course.

In Britain, it’s the present taxpayers who pay the state pension through their tax. The older people claiming pensions will suggest that they have paid into their NI pot and now they are just claiming it back, but there is no bank account they are paying into, it’s the young workers paying their pension. The stakeholder pension was the first step towards trying to shift people to a sense of personal responsibility for their old age, but I’m not sure I have met anyone who actually has a stakeholder pension.

Perhaps it sounds too harsh and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to suggest that personal responsibility needs to make a return – rather than a blind reliance on the state, but European demographics are not favourable. There will be far more old people as I age and fewer young workers paying income tax. Immigration would be the only real solution and yet that’s not something most politicians are welcoming either…

If you are ‘retiring’ 20 or 30 years from now then don’t look to the state to pay for your every need. Or if you think that’s an unreasonable assumption to make, then get out on the street and throw a few bricks – like the French.
Entire family over 100

Leaders of IT waiting for your questions…

Have you been to a conference recently where Twitter was used to create more interactivity?

I’ve been to a few. It’s easy to do at all the social media events. Just put up a big screen and agree on a hash-tag and everyone will make comments. Whether it’s anything useful is another matter entirely. I’ve also been to some events where Twitter was introduced as a good idea, yet the people in the audience had no idea how to use it despite their supposed status as leaders within the world of IT.
So I was thinking about this when I was asked by the National Outsourcing Association to add some ideas to their annual summer party. It’s usually a great event, full of people from the tech industry, and usually on a London rooftop somewhere drinking in the sun.
The party is going to take place next week on July 15 in London, but the part I managed to add starts from 4pm. It’s going to be some really interesting tech leaders speaking ‘TED-style’ for just 10 minutes each one after the other… so it’s a full-on session of ideas, with questions from the audience all being taken via Twitter.
Take a look at the speakers here. If you want to ask them a question – right now – then just ask it on Twitter and use the hashtag #noaeue. Live commentary of the event will be published on the day on the account @thenoa, so follow that user if you can’t make it in person.
– BBC, Michael Stock, Stretch Project Director, Head of Partnership & Contract
– Department for Work and Pensions, James Gardner, CTO
– Marks & Spencer, Darrell Stein, Director of IT and Logistics
– Symbian, Ian McDonald, Head of IT
– BT, Sarah Manning, Head of Services Improvement and Supplier Management
– Centrica, Kevin Devoy, Manager, Procurement and Supplier Management
– Guardian Media Group, Andy Beale, Technology Director

Tweetdeck - Twitter wall

BBC film was not just a rant

I had a few comments about my appearance on BBC Click suggesting it was just a rant. There were a few unsympathetic voices by email even. It’s pretty easy to find me online, so I had to expect that.

Well, I’m not hanging my head asking for forgiveness, or ranting about how unfair it is that the big boy Google is a bully. The film on Click was a measured look at how the strict application of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is essentially not going to work as we head further into the future.

Think about this for a moment. Where do you store your photo collection? I know that I have over 10,000 photos on Flickr, along with a box of old photos, but I am not taking any new photos that are going in the box – they are now all going online.

What happens if people start complaining about my photos and the host decides to delete my account? I don’t keep a local backup of all that content. And even if I did keep everything locally, what happens if the hard disk fails or goes up in flames?

The point about my YouTube account was that there were two complaints from over two years ago, then the Jimmy Carr complaint caused the account to be wiped without any notification. I just had no account anymore. Nobody told me a thing. I had to chase YouTube for several days just to find out why my account had vanished.

Google does not make the ‘three strikes’ policy clear anywhere, even in the small print. Saying repeat offenders will have their account removed is not the same as explicitly saying three-strikes-and-you’re-out.

And I never contested those earlier copyright claims – I never felt that I could. Imagine if Jean-Michel Jarre invited his fans to upload video, but his music publisher complained to YouTube. How would I think that I have any right to fight the music publisher? Because that’s the exact situation that occurred.

Naturally, when I lost my account, I did push back on these complaints – even the ones from 2008 – and as I said in the film, they were all removed as mistakes. But they were mistakes that for a period of time had cost me my entire video collection.

The whole point of this is that I agree that the law has to be followed, I agree piracy needs to be managed, but the fact is that the way the law is applied by Google at present means that many innocents will get caught up and will lose their content, even though you could not argue that they are deliberately trying to pirate material.

Nowt as queer as folk

When I published my first book, I remember hearing someone bitterly complain that they could write a better book on the same subject. I challenged him and said that although the poet laureate may not be scared of my work, at least I had sat down, done the research, formed an opinion, and published it for all to see. The person who grumbles that they can do better should recognise that and go away and write their own book.

Of course, there is some real trash published by writers or musicians. Sometimes you do wonder how on earth it does ever see the light of day, but even those who publish trash have worked hard to get that book or album out into the world. The critics who claim to be better need to demonstrate that, rather than just criticise. At least I could talk to my own book critics and find out what they propose could have been done better. And I do think that I’ve improved what I have written over time.

I was on TV all over the world this weekend, presenting a part of the BBC ‘Click’ TV show. I cannot tell you how many abusive and unfriendly emails I have had. Very strange indeed. I have had lots of texts and mails from people who liked what I said, but why do people send emails saying ‘I hate you’ or ‘I don’t like the way you walk!’

The funny thing is that I suspect these people are not just critics. They are a couple of kings short of a full deck of cards. How do you engage and argue with boneheads like that?
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary Speaking at the Oxford Bookstore, Bangalore - Aug 2004

BBC Click is now online

At last! The BBC Click TV show where I present an entire package on Google is online and being broadcast all over the world this week on BBC World TV. It went out on BBC1 this morning in the UK and my sister was texting me, surprised to get messages from her friends telling her to switch on!

Click here to go and watch it on the BB iPlayer…

Me on BBC Click

Wenlock and Mandeville

Callers to the BBC Five Live radio breakfast show this morning seemed dismissive of the new London 2012 Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

What do they want? Another cuddly teddy bear?

Take a look at the history of Olympic mascots – not much that is inspiring in that list is there? And not much purpose to the mascot, other than to have a cute cartoon character for merchandise.

Here’s three reasons why I think the London 2012 organising committee has done a fantastic job unveiling Wenlock and Mandeville to the world:

1. The focus is entirely on children. The purpose of these mascots is not just to look nice on a T-shirt, it’s to get kids interested in the Olympic games and sport in general.

2. There is an entire back-story to their creation. They are two drops of steel from the last girder that went into the construction of the Olympic stadium. Michael Morpurgo has written about their life so far and no doubt he will develop the story as we head to 2012. Click here to watch the film about their life so far.

3. They are designed with a multimedia future in mind from the start. They are designed to be customised and shared. Because they are made of steel, their skin can change colour and reflect the world around them. So kids will be able to go online and adopt the character of their choice and customise the colours, creating avatars that reflect their own interests – even changing them to be the colours of their favourite football team for example.

I think the committee has done a great job of focusing the mascots on kids, encouraging the future of sport, and thinking hard about what it is that kids will want to do with the mascots over the next two years.

Forget the teddy bears, I’m following Wenlock and Mandeville online now!

BBC Click – this week!

I went down to the BBC TV Centre in Shepherd’s Bush today to record some final voiceovers for the package I am presenting on the BBC Click TV show. It will be broadcast on Friday this week.

It will go out first on BBC World and BBC Online – at about 3.30pm – then later in the evening on BBC News 24 and the following day on BBC1 in the UK.

BBC TV Centre

It’s been a lot of fun putting this together with Dan and Spencer and the rest of the BBC team. I saw a rough cut of the package today and it looks great – we had such a nice day filming in Bath so those sections look really good.

I’d guess we are looking at 5 or 6 minutes of TV here, but it needed a day of filming in Bath, a few hours filming in London, a session in the recording studio doing voiceovers, and a further voiceover session today – and today I got everything right first time. Maybe I’m getting better at this presenting stuff eh? Add to that all the effort editing it together and you start getting an idea just how much effort goes into keeping a weekly show on the road.

Click is the flagship tech programme for the BBC and has a massive global audience so I’m looking forward to hearing from a few of the viewers once it goes out.

Filming 'Click' in Bath

Birds of prey hovering over Downing Street?

I loved the ornithology section on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House yesterday. Take a listen on the iPlayer, it’s in the final 5 or 10 minutes of the programme.

Do you remember the Cameron / Clegg love-in on the lawn last week? While they were speaking to the press in the garden of 10 Downing Street, there was a lot of bird noise in the background. BH got an ornithologist to identify them.

The noisiest bird was a Robin – the red of Labour trying to ruin the press conference – but what was really interesting was that he identified a Kestrel. Kestrels hover around over their prey before swooping in for the kill. Did the Miliband brothers send it swooping over the garden that sunny day?