Skip to main content
Edge of Darkness

It is a little known fact that BBC Television Centre lies in a suburb of Lagos and not London. The corporation’s grip on the news media has allowed this small detail to pass unnoticed by most of London’s population and rather like the post-war ‘Classic’ comedy, ‘A Passport to Pimlico’, Wood Lane may have a UK postcode but it’s another country, a state within a state, much like the Vatican City.

Outside of news-gathering and production duties, the domain of the Director General, (DG), I’m told, employment concessions are controlled by ‘Da Bibisi’ tribe, also known to BBC employees as the ‘Nigerian Mafia’. These extend to security, drivers, cleaners and a large proportion of the ancillary personnel.

For a lucky few, a career in television started at the airport with the magic word, ‘Asylum’ and a rolled-up copy of The Guardian media page and with a little help from ‘Da Bibisi’, anything is possible in the land of news.

Anyway, having been woken up late last night by the BBC asking if I could do a 6:40 and an 8:10 slot, I duly appeared at the stage door of ‘The Donut’, having negotiated my way through two scowling 'Bibisi' security guards at the gate who didn’t want to let me park my motorcycle, listed guest or no guest.

There was nobody at reception, a kind girl from news radio finally tracked down where BBC Breakfast was being filmed and I followed her up to the News 24 Studio.

At this point, I started to suspect the familiar BBC ‘two step’ trick. This involves booking you for one time and then calling-up and asking if you can do a much earlier slot as well. Two slots. What then happens is that the first slot,, the one you originally agreed upon at a civilised hour, when people are watching, disappears and the hapless guest is left with a sixty second ‘filler’ appearance while the rest of the nation sleeps on a Bank Holiday Monday.

True to form. The studio manager had no record of my 08:10 booking and I dutifully did my little interview along the lines of:

So tell us, why is it called Spam”
“I haven’t got a clue, Spam in a can perhaps”?
“Thank you and now for the rest of the news”.

That was it for this morning and I made my feelings clear to the producer, twice this has happened on BBC Breakfast News and once with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. What annoyed me was the hundred mile drive back to London to do the interview on the condition that it was at 8:10 and worth the effort of breaking-up my holiday weekend.

Once bitten, twice shy, says the proverb but when the BBC calls, we all jump to attention. It’s a vanity problem I’m afraid and they know it.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…