back to article London Tech Week: All for the luvvies and the joke's on you, taxpayers

Yesterday morning I was on a stage listening to the Deputy Mayor of London and trying very hard not to look out of the window. I was the 39th floor of One Canada Square (you know, the building everyone always calls “Canary Wharf”), which had a great view over North London. If only I could sneak a peek, I was sure I'd be able …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monkeys, banana plantation

    Remember when the marketing types started trying to use technical jargon to go with their Powerbooks? "Interface" for "meet" was one example.

    Now, because real technology is fashionable in some places - SF, Cambridge, - they are trying to adopt the entire sector as their word of choice. I'm not some marketing drone who writes reports on sales by region, I'm a tech worker.

    The problem comes (and accelerated my own retirement) when these people decide that, because they know a few buzzwords, they are qualified to make technical decisions. And indeed spend money intended for technology investment on...vague social media websites.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Monkeys, banana plantation

      Oh yes,

      I'll pick that up and run with it!

      I always used to try & think of a witty answer to those stupid remarks...

      "We'll collect some low hanging fruit"

      To which I replied, "I think you've been staring at Sallys tits for far to long", went down a storm, may not get away too lightly now.

      Name changed to protect the innocent & no offence intended if your name happens to be Sally or you have nice breasts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Monkeys, banana plantation

        I guess that type of "low hanging-fruit" will go nicely with "dog-years".

        I'll get my coat.

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Monkeys, banana plantation

        > I always used to try & think of a witty answer to those stupid remarks...

        You should try a David Brent-style reply. "How low? Is that strawberry low; or dwarf-Apple tree low? Suppose the strawberry plant was in a hanging-basket..."

  2. Dr Who

    The next big thing

    Is unknowable and is more likely to be born in a garage in Milton Keynes than in a creative co-working space in Shoreditch.

    I cannot however argue with those who are lapping up the gravy. I would. It's those who are pouring it that are to blame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The next big thing

      I cannot however argue with those who are lapping up the gravy. I would. It's those who are pouring it that are to blame

      Both share equally IMHO. Ethically, one has to call BS repeatedly.

      I have looked at the whole programme and there is nothing new there, just a gaggle of people who stand in a circle patting themselves collectively on the back for being "in IT" and able to con an overeager investor out of their money by using the right words rather than making a solid case. A bigger example of groupthink is as hard to find as a trace of original thinking.

      Yawn.

      1. Bugs R Us

        Re: The next big thing

        Ethics? How quaint.

    2. Getriebe

      Re: The next big thing

      Bang on on the garage thing

      Shoreditch is just useful for concentrating all the beard wearing hipsters so we South of the river don't have to suffer them too much.

      1. launcap Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: The next big thing

        Oi! Don't diss the beard! We unixy/linuxy/techonerds have owned the facial hair for much longer than those media luuvies who think that, because they can install an app on their iThing, they are technical gurus!

        Sheesh!

        <Retires behind fortress made of 1990s-era tech manuals>

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: The next big thing

      I cannot however argue with those who are lapping up the gravy. I would. It's those who are pouring it that are to blame.

      Except a mature ecosystem of 'gravy-up-lappers' (eugh...) is an organism of its own, with its very own survival instinct, and will do whatever needs to be done to make sure those pouring the gravy keep doing so.

  3. Buzzword

    The real question is...

    How do I get tickets to the free booze boat party next year?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The real question is...

      Why, wanna be my Plus-One?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most of the article discusses the ever-expanding use of "tech" to describe companies whose only tech is their IT department and website.

    It then remarks on Rory Cellan-Jones, a man who embodies this expanding use of "tech" to describe someone or an organisation who has no place using that label.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's the thing, pretty much every company that has surpassed a single shop and an old fashioned till is dependent to some degree on tech (be it internal, outsourced or hosted) as such you can classify every company as a tech company if you want as without the IT (it all crashed and didn't come up for a week) most businesses would be in the shit.

      Until Amazon started with its compute stuff it wasn't a tech company, it was a reseller that used technology as an enabler. Generally you should only class companies that actually produce a technology end result for other people as true tech companies, ergo development houses, service providers, third party support companies, ARM, companies that develop and patent new tech. If you go much beyond that you may aswell go "everyone's a tech company" because everyone should be using technology as an enabler for their business (though a great many just view tech as the money sucking void on the third floor occupied by weirdos)

      1. drummerboy46

        Third floor? it must be great where you work! Usually it's the basement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't have a basement office, though we often joke that one day they'll just move us to the basement car park.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Job Interview

          I went for an interview a while back, for a developer position at a Very Big Firm with it's own set of postcodes. The receptionist sat behind a massive granite desk in an impressive lobby - marble floor, triple height atrium etc. The dev manager came to meet me and show me to the interview room. It took ten minutes to walk there. On the way we passed offices with smoked glass windows (the windows smoke over for privacy), internal court yards with water features (proper ones, not just a pre-cast crumbling homebase fountain).Japanese style break-out area. They even had their own Starbucks which was a lot more richly appointed than the common or garden high-street variety.

          "Is this where we're working?" I asked, in awe, if a little (lot) naively.

          "No, this is HR" he replied, leading me through a firedoor and into a breeze-blocked corridor with peeling paint, and up four flights of stairs next to a lift (we don't use the lift - it breaks down every third journey) through another firedoor into a cubefarm with a ceiling so low I could touch it with the top of my head if I tiptoed. No working AC on what was one of the hottest days of the summer. Barely any windows, and those available looked out over the skips and waste disposal."Welcome to IT"

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Job Interview

            " I went for an interview a while back...."

            ...

            ""Is this where we're working?" I asked, "

            "Carlsberg don't do cocky confidence, but if they did...."

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Pint

          3rd floor, been there. basement, been there, too.

          I love being in IT.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Facepalm

        " Here's the thing, pretty much every company that has surpassed a single shop and an old fashioned till is dependent to some degree on tech (be it internal, outsourced or hosted) as such you can classify every company as a tech company if you want"

        errr, yeah. Wasn't that what the article said?

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    Shock

    And yet people still bang on that there needs to be more tax (often on what they perceive as rich). This is where the money is going and more money is not a solution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shock

      It is not the amount of tax but what governments choose to spend it on. Under Michael Heseltine the DTI actually attempted to spend money in a focussed way on supporting real businesses (those making products), because the spin off in services around them then happens automatically. During the Major years, manufacturing actually expanded a bit.

      It is not surprising that a government run by a PR man and a towel folder want to spend money on PR and "service industries". But meanwhile the constant focus on London means that benefits are being paid to people in fairly remote areas who cannot afford to move to where the jobs are, or to train to do them.

      The comment above that it is the people in charge of the tap who are to blame is spot on.

      1. The last doughnut
        Thumb Up

        Re: Shock

        I note with interest that Triumph Motorcycles was reborn during this period

        But for a journalist to complain about junkets .... the vulture does like to take a bit of a nibble from the hand that feeds it, eh?

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Shock

          Triumph was re-born in this period because John Bloor bought the rights to the name and all the old blueprints for the old twins so beloved of rose tinted old farts and threw all the prints in the bin, called in some engineers and said "I want a motorcyle with a 3 or 4 cylinder engine, it has to be resonably cheap to build, last at least 100 000 miles and does'nt piss oil everywhere... heres 100 million of my own money to build the factory and buy/ design everything you need"

          There were no share holders to demand more profits every 2 weeks, and no government department involved that would take 6 months to make a decision over which brand of bolt to buy (thats 5 mins for the decision, 1 month jetting round the world to various bolt makers and 5 months educating the PPE tossers on what a bolt actually is)

          But the comment about the next big thing coming from a lockup in Milton Keynes is right, what that tech event reported on is more about is getting your greasy face noticed so that you can sponge every more taxpayers money off an ignorant government (no doubt stuffed with more PPE tossers I mentioned earlier) thats desperate to appear to be doing something, and then claims credit as the new ARM holdings emerges from its dusty lockup to take over the tech world (or more likely says "we must run more of these events where free booze is supplied all day.. eh? tech? wassat then? hic")

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Cellan-Jones

    did Apple give him their tickets or something?

  7. Frankee Llonnygog

    Want to create more tech jobs?

    Simple - start more wars

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Want to create more tech jobs?

      But afterwards, all the tech will be snaffled by "insurgents" when you least expect it. In particular, MANPADs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Want to create more tech jobs?

      In all seriousness, that is a very true statement. Wars ARE good for the tech economy. Since Syria I've been holding positions in defence tech and oil stocks.

  8. Squander Two

    Tech businesses

    the definition of “tech” has been expanded enormously. Retailers are now tech businesses. The Bank of England is a tech business. So is Boots the chemist.

    I agree with the broad point, but these are terrible examples. Boots, yes, are a chain of shops, but they also do R&D. They invented ibuprofen, which involved actual boffinry. If that's not tech, what is? The lie here is that someone is counting every job in Boots as a tech job, not that they're counting Boots as a tech firm.

    As for the Bank of England, of course they're a tech firm. All banks are: money is a technological innovation, and always has been, at every stage of its development. Most banks of course have a huge retail division full of non-tech people, but the BoE don't. To argue that they're not a tech firm because actually they do banking is much the same as arguing that Google aren't a tech firm because actually they do advertising.

    1. JulianB
      Headmaster

      Re: Tech businesses

      Strictly, Boots The Chemist doesn't do R&D and didn't invent Ibuprofen: another division of The Boots Company did that. BTC is the retailer (so I'm not sure why it merits a mention of its own).

      1. Squander Two

        Capitalisation

        > another division of The Boots Company did that. BTC is the retailer

        Fair enough. I failed to read "Boots the chemist" as "Boots The Chemist". This level of literal-mindedness is surely why I've ended up in IT.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Tech businesses

      Actually Google isn't really a Tech company. Most of their tech as a tech is bought in or irrelevant.

      What do they make money out of, and what do they need to make the money?

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Tech businesses

        > Actually Google isn't really a Tech company.

        So if someone gets a job coding for Google, that's not really a tech job?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tech businesses

        > Actually Google isn't really a Tech company. Most of their tech as a tech is bought in or irrelevant.

        Please go here:

        http://research.google.com/pubs/papers.html

      3. Bugs R Us

        Re: Tech businesses

        Clearly, you don't know tech if you think Google is not a tech company. By the way, Amazon and eBay are also tech companies. Yeah, really.

        1. Squander Two

          Re: Tech businesses

          This whole conversation is making me wonder, at what point does something that was tech but is now so ordinary that no-one thinks of it as tech anymore become non-tech? I mean, for instance, do plumbers work in tech? What about blacksmiths?

    3. Buzzword

      Re: Tech businesses

      You wouldn't know it from looking at the UK's banking sector, but there is in fact a clear difference between banking and tech.

      In the US, every small town has its own bank; and they don't each run their own back office systems. Instead the back office operations are outsourced to one of several banking tech companies. The tech company manages all the technical aspects of the account, including any online banking facilities, card and PIN management, and all the rest. At the bank counter, the teller's computer runs the tech company's software.

      However it's the bank which makes all the financial decisions, including who can open an account, who gets credit, how much credit, and at what interest rate. They also handle marketing and anything involving physical cash. It's analogous to MVNOs in the mobile phone sector: one company runs the infrastructure while a completely different company deals with the customers.

      In the UK, the asset management sector outsources its back office work, sensibly enough. But our banks are vertically-integrated monoliths just begging to be broken up.

  9. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    "They were giving away cocktails, margaritas and tequila sunrises at the end"

    So well worth the trip then. Don't see a problem:

    Step 1 - Ignore bureaucrat fluff-speak

    Step 2 - Alcohol.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "They were giving away cocktails, margaritas and tequila sunrises at the end"

      Yes, working in tech sounds great. I should have done a sociology degree or something instead of this useless maths & computing nonsense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "They were giving away cocktails, margaritas and tequila sunrises at the end"

        " I should have done a sociology degree"

        A sociology degree and a good degree of IT literacy might get you a job with Facebook. And I heard the other day of an archaeologist who is doing very well as a forensic investigator. Same basic skill set.

        It's not the degree, it's what you make of your education.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: "They were giving away cocktails, margaritas and tequila sunrises at the end"

          Woooosh!

  10. despun

    hey hum

    Government has a need for this fiction

    As the result of government mishandling of globalisation, the UK has suffered massive industrial decline, inclusive of high-tech industries. We’ve been caught between state support/protectionism within the EU ( the French are masters, but by no means the only ones with “social ownership ) and low wage economies that have rocketed up the value chain. In the Thatcher era, economists were telling us it didn’t matter if the low added value stuff went to China – did they get that wrong. There are exceptions where the UK has a global position, but when you scratch the surface, they are far fewer than one would imagine, and far more vulnerable than one would imagine.

    But our rulers aren’t going to own up to this, and the “high-tech led industrial flowering, always just around the corner” narrative has nowhere else to go.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: hey hum

      This idiocy has spread worldwide. When the morons in charge believe their globalization fiction has become fact we have a problem that requires real definitive action. Politicians who are using "newspeak" need to be culled from society by the voters, coddling the populace to buy votes and stay in power needs to stop. The real reasons why once proud manufacturing nations are on the way to bankruptcy needs to be brought to the forefront, "protectionism" is an absolute requirement now. If we don't add tarriffs to consumer goods to balance trade we are all sunk.

      There is NOTHING more important than REAL jobs in the US, Britain etc. Simply pushing "dirty" work to emerging countries because it's "cheaper" has GOT TO STOP! We will never have any good manufacturing jobs if we don't stop this foolishness. "Cost" is a relative thing. If you have no excess money you can't afford to buy anything. Survival trumps a big flat screen.

      Mark my words, politicians everywhere are living in a fantasy land and we are all about to be as poor as dirt because of their inept inaction and ours.

      Do you really want to be living in the tenements under the thumb of a robber baron? That's where we are headed.

      1. A Twig

        Re: hey hum

        Globalisation can only work if there is a truly mobile global labour market. i.e. anyone can go and work wherever in the world there are jobs. i.e. manufacturing disappears from the UK, demand for manufacturing jobs drops. If those people could then re-locate at no cost to themselves to where this is demand for their skills (and relative income at least equal to their previous) then globalisation will work.

        Given the huge barriers to this - (cost, language, family ties etc) - this will never happen...

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: hey hum

          Globalisation is not for you.

          Globalisation is about moving money around as freely as possible and taking advantage of the cheapest possibly labour, wherever it happens to be.

          Outsourcing? Offshoring? Foreign call centres? Chinese sweat farm suicide assembly shops?

          See how it works?

          If you think any of the globalisers care about making your life easier, think again.

      2. Bugs R Us

        Re: hey hum

        You're funny. Globalization has pulled millions of people around the world out of poverty - real poverty, not the relative poverty of having access to food banks and a welfare system to fall back on.

        You can go on about "manufacturing jobs" all you want but the fact is those jobs are GONE. They will come back when robots can do them at an even cheaper wage. If you don't like capitalism, don't participate, live off the land, leave the grid. Good luck with that.

  11. Phil_Evans
    Megaphone

    And another thing...

    I would say in the classification of things, most 'Tech' companies with capitalisation over about $250M could be considered as 'Not-tech'. When M&A, patents and investment revenue outstrip yoy sales of home-grown talent, then we're into the world of high commerce (read, marketing, value, 'feel', urggg..).

    Microsoft, successful in great part owing to the purchase of Exchange Server initially, likewise SQL server and many others. They V. rarely write code-up. Does this preserve their 'tech' status?

    As for the luvvies, well yes, Facebook is luvvie-tech, Twitter even more so, PiInterest the pinacle since there's no requirement for comprehension of sentences.

    My 2 cents says that the modern political scene is equivalently luvvie-fied so vacuous media concerns beget vacuous polititians, beget....etc.

    Rant over.

  12. TopOnePercent Silver badge
    Stop

    One thing....

    The government could kickstart the tech industry in Britain by making just one simple change - Stop the relentless offshoring of IT jobs to various parts of the third world or cheap parts of Europe.

    Even the EU safe harbour data regs are routinely finessed by having half of india remote into virts with the virts based in Europe.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: One thing....

      or stop trying to pretend that 'entrepreneurs' care about anything other than making money. Privatisation means loss of control. It's not that you don't get to make the decisions it's that you don't get to say who controls the people that make those decisions. Damn sure that whoever they are they won't be thinking of benefiting tax payer when they do. The government has virtually no say in anything that goes on anymore and we are a step away from a Russian style oligarchy.

      All these junkets and press releases and just putting up the wallpaper after the house has fallen down.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One thing....

      NO. No to government telling us if we can offshore or not. Leave it to the markets. I'd rather move my entire operation out of the UK than let any government dictate such policy.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn all to do with outsourcing, I agree, outsource the easy jobs like basic software dev and system admins / helpdesk monkeys to well spoken English Indian chaps in bangawhatever and use the money saved to invest in clever chaps like us who have the competency to design an efficient manageable infrastructure, or be able to architect a a software platform to make everyone's lives better. Or even, innovate some fantastic new product or service instead of coming up with the next big 'cloud' a.k.a 'any hosting company' marchetecture bullshit.

    1. Bugs R Us

      Satire, right? People seem to overlook the obvious: outsourcing is probably the greatest form of wealth distribution the world has ever experienced.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech Week?

    How can it be a anything to do with "tech" when there's no sign of the greatest "tech" expert of all; Stephen Fry?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What did you expect when the windmill business crashed?

    When the offshore wind generation business cratered, the hypesters needed a new target. Governments attempts to migrate in the direction of high tech were just ripe for the plucking. Oh well!

    Wait till the AGW business really craters and all of those pundits need something new. The Internet of Things will be just about ready for exploitation in a couple of years.

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