Skip to main content

Winging It

I see from the Mail on Sunday this morning that a taxi driver showed more “bottle” than me when faced with an almost identical situation in the BBC News studio.

The mystery cabbie man stepped unwittingly into the national spotlight when he was interviewed by mistake on the corporation's News 24 channel. You can watch the video here.

With the seconds ticking down to a studio discussion about a court case involving Apple Computer and The Beatles' record label, a floor manager had run to reception and grabbed the man, thinking he was Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, a specialist internet publication. I know Guy's work and can confirm that he looks nothing like the ‘black cabbie’ who took his place.

The same thing almost happened to me a couple of years ago in the same studio. I forget what I was in there to talk about but the floor manager marched me into the studio, sat me down next to the news reader and then left.

I had a moment or so before going live; and the weather was running in the gap to the top of the hour news and the anchor turned to me and asked “how long have you been doing knees then?” I looked blank. “Knees?” I replied. “Yes as the team physiotherapist” and he mentioned a Premier League club linked to a major news story of an injured player.

At this point, I wondered if I should “wing it” or tell the truth but buckled under the strain and confessed that I was there for the next story. This caused a brief panic and the running order was quickly changed as there was no time to find the real physio. The black cabbie last week did however do a fantastic job by all accounts and nobody knows who he was.

Perhaps the funniest incident I had was on Sky News at the time of the 3G telephony auction, where the government made ‘squillions’ by selling the licenses to the likes of Vodafone at inflated prices the later regretted and which we will pay for over the next ten years. Sky dragged me in to the studio for another technology story and as a ‘regular’ they didn’t bother checking the content with me before sitting me down in the studio, with a good friend, one of their news anchors, giving the interview.

“I haven’t a clue about all this 3G stuff” he said, with twenty seconds to run, “So I’ll ask you a pretty broad question and you fill up two minutes with your answer.”

“What 3G stuff”, I replied, “I though I was doing ‘x’ today?”

The Sky News music started to play, ten seconds left before going on air. “We’ll have to wing it” he said and thankfully, nobody noticed, which says a great deal about modern news gathering and rather less about the experts!

Comments

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…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

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 …