back to article Schmidt bewails Blighty's boffin-v-luvvie culture clash

"The more one pleases generally, the less one pleases profoundly" – Stendahl Eric Schmidt had two objectives in the TV industry keynote he delivered last Friday evening, apart from getting out of Edinburgh alive. Those objectives were simple: plug Google, and plug the internet. Schmidt went about this by being self-deprecating …

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Motorola

They now own Motorola - a large producer of Set top boxes - this changes the game...

IT education is really rubbbish - I was taught to program in BASIC, now schools tell kids how to use MS Word / Powerpoint and Excel.

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LPF
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I was there when Computing changes to IT

The changed from o-level to GCSe was drastic, and profound, dumbing down to the lowest common denominator.

we swent from being taught how the computers worked and their interals, to how to use a word processor, computing for the dullards, had me almost in tears. I could see the smug gits face as he told me "Mr **** , you seem to have a problem with my course", when I pointed out that I wanted to do two years of programming , not messing about with word processors. God I hate GCSE

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Wrong Motorola

"They now own Motorola - a large producer of Set top boxes - this changes the game..."

No, it doesn't. Motorola *Mobility* Holdings (NYSE: MMI), recently acquired by Google, makes smartphones and tablets.

Motorola *Solutions* (NYSE: MSI), is the company that makes set-top box equipment (and 2-way radios, and network equiment, and.. and...). This remains an independent entity.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Wrong Motorola

"Motorola *Solutions* (NYSE: MSI), is the company that makes set-top box equipment (and 2-way radios, and network equiment, and.. and...). "

Nope, the set-up box bit of the business is with Motorola Mobility.

However, Motorola doesn't sell these set-top boxes direct to the public - the latter rent or buy (usually rent) them from cable companies, so arguably this isn't such a game-changer as it might appear at first glance.

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Kids these days

BASIC was still a couple of years away in advanced computer studies. It was Logo and Turtle graphics for me. That with one of 6 Apple IIe we had. The geeky kids were the ones that stayed back in recess time to use them.

Mind you, you'll struggle to find any teachers now who has even heard of the those let alone teach it.

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Apologies..

Seems I was wrong to trust info on the Internet (Yahoo Finance in particular). It is indeed Mobility who make STBs, and not Solutions.

Google has to a major contender for "Great Satan" for cable companies, so it's hard to see how the STB business could thrive under Google ownership.

Interestingly, competitors Pace and Arris have both risen after the acquisition (Scientific Atlanta is buried in Cisco these days, so it's hard to see what affect it had on them)

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FAIL

Not for listeners iN Scotland

Despite having possession of a megabrain, Schmidt was unable to perceive the fact that there is no single UK education system

In fact, Scotland, and Edinburgh is, even in August, in Scotland on a technicality, has a seperate education system that DOES do the things he says are desirable

I can't comment oN England, Walse or NI, but he is possibly wrong on those as well

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Meh

Blah

"In fact, Scotland, and Edinburgh is, even in August, in Scotland on a technicality, has a seperate education system that DOES do the things he says are desirable"

One you clearly have not benefited from, if the garbled English is to be used as a guide.

In any case, the claim that Scotland has a better education system to England is really just marketing hype. There are certainly places of educational excellence in Scotland - just like in England. There are also places in Scotland where the 'education' is really just herding wasters for a few years before they leave school and stab one another en masse - just like in England.

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Boffin

British anti-intellectualism starts young...

«"boffin" is almost always used affectionately»

Not at my school it weren't, mate.

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Facepalm

He's got a point about ICT

I suppose it probably varies from school to school, but I don't have too many issues with my daughters' progress in English, Maths and Science.

But, particularly considering the school is trying to position itself as an IT academy, the 1 hour of secretarial skills training they receive each week as "Information and communication *technology*" is lamentable.

Not since "domestic science" (AKA cooking) has a subject been so poorly named. Next up, the driving test to be renamed "Automotive and Engineering Technology" and swimming lessons to be called "Hydrodynamic Studies"

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Anonymous Coward

You will have a problem...

When your IT and Science teacher take a hike. The conditions (working, pupil attitude and environment) in Schools are bad enough but, I believe, Academies are, generally, worse.

As a School you are either forced to become an Academy because you're failing in the state system or you take a mercenary jump to take advantage of the extra money. In the former Teaching conditions are worsening making it more difficult to teach attention-demanding numerate subjects with the restricted budgets and in the latter the extra money need not necessarily find its way to improving resources. The remaining state schools will gradually be forced down an 'elitist' route.

In the early 80's adverse curiculum changes were forced on numerate subject education because of a lack of teachers. The result is the shallow, but maybe broader, approach today. IT education in schools addresses application usage not principles - for the most part - but is that what pupils need to know, what industry needs or what can be provided in the framework available?

Name changing will occur, as you note. Idiotic, faddish "Educationalist" policy makers will, again, attempt smoke and mirrors to mask their epic scale historic incompetence and drag politicians along with them.

Young people try their very best and achieve more often than not in spite of the system and that, at least, gives me some hope.

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Media Studies my arse!

Apparently Media Studies has now become Media Science omfg!

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Anonymous Coward

"boffin" is almost always used affectionately

Er, you might like that to be the case but it most certainly is not. Bright kids get picked on by their contemporaries in British schools for being a "boffin" these days, just as their American counterparts are abused by such terms as brainiac, poindexter etc.

Someone I met recently (in her late twenties or early thirties) even said to me "so you're a computer boffin.....well, not boffin." as they tried to extricate them self from having used what they perceived to be an insult. Of course I said I was pleased to be referred to as a boffin. But the point is made that the term is not understood in the way it once was.

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FAIL

YASTB

don't they realise that a pretty high percentage of UK Homes already have at least one STB?

Be it a SKY+ box, a FreeView box, a FreeSat box or a BT box. All with or without a PVR included.

Do we want another STB?

IMHO, the answer is nope we don't.

Yet another frigging remote to lose/step on/spill the beer over/dog chews up/whatever.

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Education

Sorry for the kids of the UK, but as a Yank, it's nice to see that we're not the only first world nation with such a bad education system. We're often told just how bad it is here, mostly (I suspect) because "things are going well" doesn't induce the panic often needed to part taxpayers from even more of their money.

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Headmaster

This blank is intentionally titled.

Errm, in the UK, "luvvies" are actors and "trick cyclists" are psychiatrists*!

* or they were during World War II.

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You can't be both?

I know a lot of very literate, sociable, creative people ("luvvies") who are also very technically able. I'd count myself in this category too - I've coded in everything from 68k assembly up to Python, and make my living from writing software, but it's not the totality of my life. Given a choice between tinkering with a Linux box or reading a good book, I'm afraid the book wins every time.

The Internet is great at magnifying small facets of people's personality, but we're all a lot more multi-dimensional than it ever appears here.

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The title...

"Schmidt's speechwriter – and one sees the work of the wondrous Sarah Hunter in this – fails to realise that while "luvvie" is always used pejoratively, "boffin" is almost always used affectionately. "Trick cyclist", if anything, is the pejorative equivalent."

What rubbish, trick-cyclist is the pejorative for a psychiatrist.

I've never known it used to describe any other science or engineering profession. Or are the reg doing their own thing with the english language again?

A common pejorative would be egghead, perhaps?

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Unhappy

Egghead sounds familiar from my schooldays

I think boffin went away for bit.

A Request -

along with Register defined units, can we have Register defined job descriptions?

I especially want to see "erk" and "skypilot" in use.

Example in response to some question with a bleeding obvious answer - "Is Rome's top skypilot* a Catholic?"

Please.

*Pyschopomp, while another good word, always strikes me as a bit - well - pompous

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Anonymous Coward

Quite.

Absolutely

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=trick+cyclist+

I think "Geek" is the word Mr Orlowski is looking for.

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Holmes

"we're all a lot more multi-dimensional than it ever appears here."

Are we?

The dimension which appears to rule most people with influence most of the time they're using that influence is

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

In the UK, you don't get $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ by being good at science, engineering or technology. Sir Alan is the classic example.

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Title

Speaking of the good Lord Sugar, how are the E@Mailers doing these days?

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FAIL

According to my 15 yo

"Boffin" is most definitely an insult. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.

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Send them to their bedroom!

They don't get to come down again until they've watched "The Dambusters" and written an essay on the contribution of the scientific, technical and mathematical fields of study to the Second World War.

(and they can turn that racket down too!)

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Meh

The man's a lunatic

But he's obviously pressing the right buttons for some folk. You should see the nodding and chinstroking going on over in the Graun comments to the same story (from about 3 days ago dear Reg - pull your socks up!)

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What kind of filter?

> "Without some form of filtering, we would drown in information. So the real question is, if not personalisation, what kind of filtering should we have?

Just a wild idea here. How about a filter based on FACTS, not opinions, biases, dogma, politics, religious belief, what some "personality" thinks or wishes. Since Google already has a ranking algorithm, would it be so hard to tweak it so that actual information is presented above conjecture, gossip, and celebrity.

The problem then is that Google takes the role of "Ministry of truth" (if it hasn't already) and gets to define what we believe.

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Anonymous Coward

He is right

Boffin patents cure for cancer. Gets exclusive manufacturing rights for 15 years (might be a little more).

Luvvie writes song about Boffin's patent. Get exclusive reproduction rights (copyright) for lifetime plus 75 years.

Copyright law is complete bullshit and needs to be changed.

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Stop

How about no?

While I'm not currently working in biotech, it is what I studied, and I hope to return to it in a few years' time.

From my perspective, even though such patents might be providing my salary, to a certain extent, the 15 year period is about right. Nobody will die because they can't buy luvvie's latest single (well, apart from a few unhinged teenagers, which isn't so bad).

Many will die if they cannot afford the boffin's drug. And guess what, said boffin, unless he is boffin-turned-major-shareholder, i.e. scum, will see precious little of the money earned by the patent - it all goes to the shareholders.

Who are, as we all know, notoriously generous when it comes to pricing badly needed drugs. Just ask all those jolly people wasting away in Africa because they can't afford anti-HIV treatment.

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Linux

David Braben.

Eric Schmidt has only echoed David Braben and the reason which he says is why he is involved with the Raspberry Pi project.

I wonder how likely it is that Eric Schmidt and Google invest in thr Raspberry Pi. You never know, their next generation Cloud services could be hosted on £15 credit card sized computers.

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Flattery will get you . . .

It struck me as basically as a load of flattery - appealing to the British idea that we're good at inventing things - both artistically and scientifically - but not very good at business. Which is flattering because we all hate salesmen.

But the real payload was the request for less regulation of Internet based businesses, particularly advertising. Which would obviously be to the benefit of everyone else, not the incumbent winner of the online advertising race.

And as for his comment about not being in the content business. I can only presume that is because Schmidt doesn't really believe there is any significant money to be had, otherwise they would be on a buying spree of content producers, and funding original content to sell adverts against.

They don't even do anything like a YouTube Young Filmmakers contest, or some competition where the best Blogger hosted blog gets a salary for a year - things that would be trivial to fund, compared to the millions spent on donations to academics.

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Culture clash = culture crash

Notwithstanding the chasms of ideation, affect, and preferred watering hole that separate the boffins/geeks from the luvvies, there is one thing they hold together (for dear life) in common -- the logical positivist notion of meaning as verifiability. That centrally and crucially determines what is considered to be science/knowledge on one hand, and what is not. The latter then is (ie logically must be) art or poetry or religion. As this epistemological prejudice approaches its hundredth birthday, its social and cultural effects have proved to be not unexpectedly many and varied. And sometimes bizarre.

An example of the bizarre is consequent on the lost ability to spot and appreciate a metaphor when it bites your donkey. Cosmology for example is stuffed full of metaphors that masquerade as explanations of observational data. But if science has got increasingly metaphorical over the last century, then the arts have paradoxically got increasingly real. Not in a coherent way (incidentally, matching science in that respect: a plethora of metaphors makes not the dog's of an extended metaphor, but only the dog's breakfast of a mixed metaphor). So we have the primitivist 'realism' of painting, the magic 'realism' of literature, the hysterical 'realism' of Pynchon (well, maybe), etc. Not forgetting the hyperreal 'realism' of the capitalist enterprise, its goods, and its simulacra of pleasure and satisfaction.

It's time that the clash became a crash.

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