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Tech for tech’s sake

I’ve just listened to a short radio programme (Hidden Histories of the Information Age) on the momentous occasion of the first live international satellite television production, the broadcasting of the Our World television programme.

Broadcast on 25th June 1967, featuring a number creative luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Maria Callas and the first public airing of The Beatles – All you need is love, it was a ground breaking and technologically innovative moment in media history.

It was easy for me to take a leap forward in time to our current day and draw analogies between this event and some of the recent groundbreaking moments that have happened with technology, the potential from the likes of Google Glass spring to mind.

However it was apparent that following the broadcast of the Our World programme that not all the feedback was glowingly positive. Whilst there was no doubt that this was a technology first, had it brought the sense of global harmony that had been hoped for? It seemed the answer was no.

It’s the expectation or reliance on the powerful aura of doing a technology first that has been the pitfall of too many marketing led events and product launches over the last few decades. The fact that you’re doing something first (or even just trying to jump on the early adopter bandwagon) isn’t necessarily a reason for success.

Instead the focus should be on solving tangible issues or providing something people actually want through the innovative use of technology. I’m sure that when Aubery Singer devised the programme concept his aim was to deliver this sense of one world and one race, a global message of potential harmony. To be fair to Singer the majority of the reviews following the programme’s broadcast gave the sense that he achieved this to some end, however other feedback focussed on a disappointment in the overall content quality. It felt there was an underlying sense of a reliance on the wonder of a global live broadcast rather than ensuring that the content and programme’s reason for being achieved goals that were befitting of the overall project’s objectives.

In our current fast moving and democratised technology sector new apps and platforms come and go by the week, these are adopted and dropped by brands and individuals alike in a never ending circle of trying to be the first to do something and expecting that to be newsworthy in itself. Instead we all need to stop, think and work out why and what value does the new technology add? Take the time to be thoughtful in it’s use, inventive. Don’t use new technology for the sake of it being fresh, you’d be far better off using older technology in new and more productive and innovative ways.

I’ll leave you with a recording of the Beatles broadcast of “All you need is love” on that day June day in 1967.


Wayback Machine copy of Air Space Mag article by Tom Huntington