back to article Boris: Look on 'London's digital tentacles', ye mighty, and despair!

London mayor Boris Johnson and ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have today opened the inaugural London Technology Week. It's estimated 30,000 people will attend 200 talks and workshops over the next five days, covering everything from big data to "digital ladies". The confabs and demos will be held in locations …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Every corner of the capital and far beyond.'

    I'm guessing he means 'even to the M25'?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Every corner of the capital and far beyond.'

      I doubt he means as far as the M25, maybe the edge of the North Circular at a push.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Like it's a good thing?

    "The tentacles of our digital army now spread to every corner of the capital and far beyond"

    If that's supposed to be a good thing, shouldn't his speech-writer have come up with something that sounds less menacing? Something like "Our services are now able to meet every need throughout our city"?

    I'm not a speech writer (as you can tell), but that sounds just plain nasty.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like it's a good thing?

      Yet still not getting a decent mobile signal in Central Londoon

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Like it's a good thing?

        Yet still not getting a decent mobile signal in Central Londoon

        Must be using an iPhone then

    2. Werner McGoole

      Re: Like it's a good thing?

      Yes, definitely a bit vampire squidish, that.

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: Like it's a good thing?

      There are only two kinds of people who say things like that when they're not on the set of Dr. Who.

      The first type, which I believe is what we've got here, is the harmless idiot. The same kind of person who OK's an anthropomorphic storm drain to go round to schools and warn kids about the dangers of playing in storm drainage systems. Yeah, that's something to warn kids about, but the 'cute' talking storm drain is handing out pictures of drowned bodies and fun facts about how the Human body is rendered lifeless when trapped inside subterranean concrete tubes filled with water. It's just a great big ole bundle of crazy and the only way somebody approved that is if they are somehow wired to stop thinking the minute they see something cute. Weird, but harmless.

      The other kind of person who says things like that is a madman with vast resources who has just killed their PR staff to satiate the werepandas that carry the war elephants sedan chair the he rides to battle on. Like Xerxes with less of a tan and more of a beard. Personally, I imagine that person to be very Larry Ellison in appearance, wearing infants for shoes, bare legged except for gold boxer shorts, wearing a rhinestone smoking jacket and a platinum captains hat poised jauntily on his head.

      I realize that may seem like a very detailed image, but that's the picture you get if you cut the corners from the bottom of every odd numbered page in the annual report books from Oracle. I've got the whole set and I've been through this exercise every year since 1998, when I first noticed what I initially thought was an error from the printers. Upon inspection I found the 'errors' to have incredible detail so I went back to the beginning of Oracle's annual reports and since then have constructed a mosaic with the scene I described above.

      The mosaic is enormous, obviously the work of a true egomaniacal madman. I had to completely empty the 4th and 5th subfloors of my applied bioengineering facility to construct, what I believe, is the worlds largest coordinate targeted UV micro-saturation system just to see image in its full glory. The UV system became necessary after I discovered that some Humans with inferior vision could not see the image. I applied a custom version of the same false color techniques NASA uses in their environmental simulation film studios. The paper Oracle uses for their reports responds very well to the UV saturation and by varying the intensity, time and wavelength of the beam the color of the paper can be changed to make the hidden image easily viewable by all Humans, including the genetically inferior sub-species that are otherwise unable to see it and the warning it contains.

      If you include the costs of lost productivity in the bioengineering facility, the UV system and the 2,500 complete sets of original Oracle annual reports I needed to correct earlier mistakes, I've spent more than $13,000,000 on the project. That might sound like a lot, but you try piecing together the delusions of a lunatic who hides his vision of a despotic future in the financial reports of his company. The entire mosaic is 60m wide and 145m tall and as soon as the face of the subject is complete (I estimate that to be 8-9 years from now). When it is complete I will activate the lift and raise the warning so that all who look upon it will know the face of their destroyer.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Like it's a good thing?

        Nice one, Don!

        And good luck in your critical mission!

      2. SisterClamp
        Happy

        Re: Like it's a good thing?

        Personally, I imagine that person to be very Larry Ellison in appearance, wearing infants for shoes, bare legged except for gold boxer shorts, wearing a rhinestone smoking jacket and a platinum captains hat poised jauntily on his head.

        And with no eyebrows. Don't forget that bit.

  3. Dr Who

    Research has found

    That a new born gnat grows at a faster rate than a full grown elephant.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Research has found

      Especially when you reclassify every dry-cleaner with a facebook link as a digital business

  4. smudge Silver badge
    Holmes

    Adolescence?

    "...London’s tech sector, which despite only being in adolescence..."

    When I started working (1978), the cream of the UK's IT consultancies and software houses were concentrated in the West End - Soho, Fitzrovia and Covent Garden.

    Logica, Scicon, SPL, Hoskyns, CAP - and probably more, but as you'd expect from an old fart, the memory is going now....

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Joke

      Re: Adolescence?

      I dunno why I reply to children. Maybe to humour them....Nonetheless....

      When I started working (1974) I'd already built my first transmiiter a few years before. I was 12 when I made it.

      Intel 4004, anyone? 74LS181? AMD 2900 RISC processors, that needed a "NOP" after a "JNE", because it'd 'skid' past the last instruction of a branch?

      Yeah. Done that, been there.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

    The US may not get everything right, but the conscious effort of their Federal political system to split clusters of specialism across the country is to be admired.

    Most cities have a little bit of everything, but New York is heavily investment banking and advertising, Washington is politics, San Francisco technology (with Seattle mopping up the significant overspill) and Los Angeles entertainment.

    In the UK?

    Finance? You have to be in London.

    Law? Best get down to London

    Film, music, national journalism? London's your place.

    Advertising? You really have to be in London

    Work for a national charity? To london with you, in spite of the modest salaries below exec level.

    So when planning where to encourage tax credits our hard working politicians left the House of Commons and toured the length and breadth of the M25 before deciding that yes, London was the place.

    It's mental. Silicon Valley has got to be an absurdly expensive place to live, but only through generating an ocean load of economic value and getting a billion people laughing at videos of cats. It's already too expensive to live in Shoreditch, and the only sensible goal I can see for any startup is to get big enough to be noticed in Silicon Valley and wooed there to grow to scale.

    Put incentives in Birmingham or Manchester or wherever in an area with a cost base less than half London and let the venture capitalists that London has very few of anyway get on a train, then give this a chance of really working.

    1. joeldillon

      Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

      Not to mention that we've already got a perfectly good tech hub in this country in Cambridge, with proper grownup companies like ARM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

        Unfortunately Cambridge doesn't have an elected self publicist with political ambitions to represent it, just boring old academics. And who needs them in an exciting, cutting edge digital business media frenzy?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

          Boris Johnson isn't to blame here (which is a rarity).

          London's highest elected official has a duty to advocate for London, and he's doing a good job here.

          The blame lies with our national politicians who are too lazy or too blinkered to see the need for a balanced national economy.

          Germany get it (Berlin, Munich, Dortmund) as do China (Beijing, Shanghai and now Hong Kong) and even India (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai) in spite of the extremely limited political pluralism in the latter two.

          Why Britain doesn't get it is beyond me.

          Scratch that, Britain DOES get it. I'd guess this is the primary real driver for devolution. I'm not a fan in principle, but if it makes the country more of a country then maybe it's a good thing.

      2. toadwarrior

        Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

        Cambridge also nearly London prices for homes, it has London style traffic problems and yet it has none of the conveniences of London including the wages.

        That's why a lot of companies struggle to find talent in Cambridge despite the university being there and then they end up moving down to London.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

      The distribution of specializations here in the US is a function of organic commercial growth, not the Federal Government. The locus of a given industry, usually its 'birthplace', serves as sort of a network hub that sucks in new ideas and distributes them. Often, the 'most important' metro area in a given region will be that regions central hub for the industry. It's there that market specific adjustments are made and where the legions of specialized support services spring up to fulfill the needs of the industry, as it exists in that region.

      Workers in that region migrate towards the regional locus and before you know it you've got a largely self contained business ecosystem that eventually tends to wander in its own direction to reflect the changing needs of the industry in that region. What may appear to be government intervention is actually commercial evolution that the government shoulders in on after things have become established.

      It's that lack of organic, needs driven growth, that doom government 'focus area' business development initiatives. Companies often tend to move into those focus areas because of various incentives that seem like a big deal, but not only do those incentives fail to offset the costs of setting up shop in the 'zone', the costs of support services are always completely out of line with the market rate for the same service outside the 'zone'.

      It's often not recognized, especially among the young, inexperienced types that tend to found startups, but a business succeeds or fails based on how well it manages its support costs. The headline expenses in the news (staff, product development, taxes, facilities, etc...) tend to occult the myriad of other things that kill a company as surely as if they were including an aborted Human fetus in each gallon of milk.

      In organic growth situations you get not just better pricing, but better service as well. The support services establish and grow themselves by being aware of what the local/regional price points are, they also know the details of how that industry functions there. The priciest lawyer in the world is worthless if they don't know, understand and adhere to the idiosyncratic nature of the industry where you are. They compete amongst themselves in that region and that's reflected in their costs and performance.

      In a 'zone' you're at the mercy of a finite group of service providers so you get shitty pricing and performance. It's nearly impossible to not use those services though. That's why service providers gravitate towards businesses, there are a lot of things that simply can't be dealt with .'virtually' you need someone nearby and budget compliant with your situation. A $30m annual business doesn't need a $1300/hr Manhattan lawyer (or whatever), but that's all you're going to get in a 'zone'. Everything is priced to reflect the needs of a mature company that can affect their finances in huge ways by shifting pennies here and there.

      Startups simply don't need BIG services. It's like calling up Cray and ordering a $50m system to help your kid with their elementary school math homework when a C64 is more than adequate. You've got to grow into big services, not start out with them. The idea that business plans are static and if you plan correctly you'll know exactly what you need in the future is one of the dumbest fucking things I've ever heard. Nobody knows what their startup will need tomorrow, the government sure as shit doesn't know. Therefore, if you move into a zone because it has 'everything you need' you're already precariously close to doom. Doom in London is likely one, or two, levels of hell in and of itself.

      Setup shop out of town, go into the city when you have to, and if you're good enough (and lucky enough) people who want to do business with you will come to you. Don't go to them, it's a trap and they'll smell your VC equity money, and mentally spend it, long before they can see you.

    3. SisterClamp

      Re: London is a stupid, stupid place to encourage a technology startup boom

      We used to look at places in Beverly Hills and think they were affordable!!!

      You're right...ish, but Silicon Valley had its own problems; i.e. the people needed to maintain the Real World (teachers, electricians, plumbers, etc.) couldn't afford to live there.

  6. Spanners Silver badge

    Forget Scottish Independence

    As a Scot, but not in it, I am not keen on breaking up the UK.

    I am willing to make an exception of London though. Malaya and Singapore went their own ways and both seem OK about it. Malaysia is a pretty decent place. They have trade, finance and stuff. They also make things, like cars and food and more stuff...

    Singapore has finance & trade and trade & finance. They do a bit of IT too.I doubt it has a much of an agricultural centre though.

    That sounds pretty much like London then.

    I propose to separate London from the UK. It may take a little time to draw up the boundaries but there's no rush. The centre of UK Government could be moved back to York or thereabouts. Cameron etc could be given the option of staying in London as he seems to feel it's so central. That would be up to Boris. HM and family can live in whatever they want. I would vote to keep her head of state anyway but we don't need a reclaimed swamp in the remote south east to keep us going.

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Forget Scottish Independence

      ...we don't need a reclaimed swamp in the remote south east to keep us going

      Singapore; Hong Kong; Brunei; Bahrain; Taiwan; they all have the advantage of being islands. If London had been founded on the Isle of Wight it would have declared independence years ago.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Forget Scottish Independence

        "Singapore; Hong Kong; Brunei; Bahrain; Taiwan; they all have the advantage of being islands", they took the bigger island, we tend to be that when given a chance to choose between big and small.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Forget Scottish Independence

          Always focus on the positive. A city with a river is halfway to being an island you know. Nothing good ever came from half-measures, so get to digging you're halfway there already.

    2. smudge Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Forget Scottish Independence

      "..I am not keen on breaking up the UK.

      I am willing to make an exception of London though. "

      You didn't explain why.

      "...we don't need a reclaimed swamp in the remote south east to keep us going."

      Ah. The usual pig-ignorance and blind prejudice. That explains why!

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Forget Scottish Independence

        @spanners

        Loved your comment. You just reminded me of 'Passport To Pimlico' :)

  7. Frankee Llonnygog

    The tentacles of our digital army now spread etc, etc

    Unlike affordable fast broadband

  8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    46 000 jobs eh?

    So where are these magic workers going to come from?

    re-skilled british? naww costs to much to train and besides , they'll want a decent rate

    Fresh immigrants.... well yes... but they'll still need training... that costs

    I know can we transfer all our indian staff here on internal transfer visas, pay them min wage ,pack them 14 to a room in tower hamlets, then claim our call center is UK based ?

    Boris

    PS I live on a proper reclaimed swamp... not the reclaimed 2000 yrs of sewage that floated down river like London

  9. bag o' spanners
    Facepalm

    Ganging the Bong

    Where's Lord Bong in all of this? I need some genyoowine neekspeek with my pie in the sky.

    What is the hourly rate for re-booting a RIFD machine in Tesco?

  10. SVV Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sigh, not more of this vacuous hype.....

    "along with homegrown outfits such as Mind Candy and Hassle"

    Who, although based in London in the IT industry I have never actually heard of..... still, I'm sure they wow their VC angels with their fresh smoothie maker in the office in Shoreditch whenever they visit. After which aforesaid angels leave and snigger to themselves that the latest Boris Bullshit has just enabled them to afford another expensive prickmobile this year.

    And Bloomberg loves the place of course from all the dosh he makes with his proprietary real time info system that has its tentacles over the City, so no womder he's so keen to come and blather on too with the blonde bumbler.

  11. Alan Denman

    'Canned' is the word

    Yes, I really do wonder how many days a week Boris actually gets out of bed. Did he write that line, maybe so looking rushed in being so bad.

    Talking of laziness, he did look less unkempt the other day, so he does rise pre-lunchtime on occasion.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: 'Canned' is the word

      " I really do wonder how many days a week Boris actually gets out of bed. "

      He has 'people' to do that for him.

      Maybe one of his many unelected 'advisors' who are on a fair old wedge of dosh.

  12. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Growth Rate

    "Further research by South Mountain Economics and Bloomberg Philanthropies found that the tech sector in London and the South East of England is growing at a faster rate than California."

    Is that a percentage or an absolute?

    Because if it's expressed as a percentage it almost certainly means that California is pulling away from London in absolute terms.

  13. Peter Stone

    A thought

    Boris: Look on 'London's digital tentacles', ye mighty, and despair!

    & how does the poem you've paraphrased end? Oh yes;

    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

    The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: A thought

      A cambridge classist perhaps? Quite to the point.

      A bit like the Microsoft advert with the Where do you want to go today? backgrounded with The Day of Wrath ..condemmed to hell (or something)

      Memory, where is my memory, I thought I left it here

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