The recent annual MacTaggart conference in Scotland consisted of several key points from the Chairman of Google, Eric
Schmidt, during his lecture. One of these was a friendly telling of the television industry, in so many words, not to fear Google’s advancement into the broadcasting realm – Google TV is not here to steal your jobs, just re-invent the medium! Considering that GTV has not been doing well in the States and the assurance that “we aren’t interested in original content development,” there was definitely a palpable sigh of relief throughout the crowd.
The other main theme of this venerable broadcasting conference, as told by Schmidt, was why he thinks the UK is lagging behind capitalising on its profound record of technological innovations: “Over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together.” He then proceeded to run off a list of all the things that the British can claim as ‘theirs,’ including television, photography and computers and then adding, curtly, “Thank you for your innovation, thank you for your brilliant ideas. You’re not taking advantage of them on a global scale.” Said without any venom just a fatherly warning, it seems judging from the online responses to his comments, many agree.
His points are valid and like most of the social or economic problems in the UK (including the current riots), the mistakes can be traced back to the educational, and deeply entrenched class systems. The rift between brilliant ideas and capitalizing on them is also apparent by how culturally, in the UK, creative arts degrees and science and engineering fields are ghettoized, leaving a chasm that other countries like the US or China happily fill. Schmidt also pointed out that one of the main reasons that Apple is so successful is that the company integrated musicians, poets, artists and engineers to create a holistic product. Wise words form Mr. Schmidt and something the UK needs to heed for the future.