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Britain Lags Behind In High Tech World 7 January 2007

Posted by David in Uncategorized.

MSN. Amazon. Ebay. Yahoo. Google. YouTube. WordPress. What is it that links all of these things, other than the internet? America.

In the realms of technology, as electronic hardware, software and entrepreneurial use of it, the United States outperforms the rest of the World. Yet any one of these internet giants could have been founded anywhere. Indeed, much technology originates from the UK, right back to the early Colossus machines at Bletchley Park. So why is it that Britain, sharing the English language benefit, has so failed to make a commercial impact?

I think the answer lies in a cultural difference. America is a far more optimistic place, by and large anyway. Britain, and even more so our European neighbours, are far less so. Pessimism reigns supreme.

That American optimism also correlates to an engagement in new technology, and as an optimistic country this new technology is embraced on an individual level, resulting in enterprise. The public embraced the idea of “the internet” and set about making it a commercial success. A generally more pro-business ethos helped it on its way.

Our pessimism is dismissive of new technology. Here the idea of having computers in the home, and doing shopping on them, or sending messages on them, seemed insane. It took far longer for the internet to gain ground here, as had previously been the case for home video camcorders and VCRs before.

Our governments tend to embrace whacko future visions, generally socialist inspired and revolving around architecture I add, which puts us off the future (with good reason as most of their Utopias are concrete hell). Take for example the report Robots to Get Human Rights by the Government’s top scientist, it’s just crazy. American governments don’t get so involved in future gazing it seems, and take the role of stability, history and tradition, giving people the confidence to embrace the technology, without feeling it is in competition with tradition. In short, it’s not a threat – it’s progress, not a revolution.

But all is not lost for Britain. Technology is becoming loved. All we need now is better education, lower taxes, and free trade with the US… Oh, and to start being less pessimistic about technology and business.



1. Tony - 7 January 2007

‘So why is it that Britain, sharing the English language benefit, has so failed to make a commercial impact?’

Because so many of the people from Britain are forced to go to the US in order to develop these high tech systems. We have a brain drain for a number of factors, but these include a short term approach to return on investment and over regulation in business. I don’t think pessimism is to blame.

However you can sympathise with pessimists when we are losing people whose expertise can add to our GDP and Labour thinks they can be replaced in driving our economy with east European fruit pickers.

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