Diligent readers may have noticed the silence from this quarter – an unexplained lapse in my efforts to find some gentle humour amongst the stern earnestness of broadband politics and campaigns for regulatory reform.
It is not, I am pleased to report, that comedic prospects have finally run dry. Benoît Felten’s recent reference to Australian TV’s satirical talent applied to the NBN’s opposition shows that this is evidently not so – even though he despairs at the contrasting lack of creative criticism amongst European TV shows.
In the UK we would need to go back a very long time indeed to find satirists tackling the strangeness of the digital economy – back in fact to the days of Spitting Image. Their writing team, scattered as they were in 1984 across the UK, were amongst the early beneficiaries of what was then a curious development – later to be known as email.
This system (the pre-privatized BT’s Telecom Gold) predated the Internet Protocol, did not require PC’s or smart devices and exploited the emergent X25 packet-switched services. With some rubber cups to capture the telephonic squeaks and whistles for conversion into data travelling at 0.0024 Mb/s, the scripts for those wonderful programmes could be compiled in 3 days – leaving enough time for the puppeteers to perfect their art
Their tribute to this astounding innovation – and alas I do not know of an archive copy – was in the form of a spoof Wagnerian opera complete with a puppet prima donna (with horned helmet) and chorus signing the aria ‘We’ve got an RS232 interface lead’ – the vital connector between screen and modem. I guess not many viewers understood the reference.
We so often hear that TV comedy is not what it used to be. Perhaps commissioning editors at the BBC could take note of the efforts down under and apply some creative talent to today’s broadband nonsense in the style of the Guardian’s Ripped off Britons.
But I digress. The real reason for recent radio silence (and a sense of calm philosophical rumination) is that I have taken time out to drift around in a fine sailboat amongst Ionian Islands. Normally this would be a great excuse for being entirely cut-off but it seems that every taverna – even in the most unlikely of places – now boasts WiFi.
So, feeling slightly guilty at enjoying the sunshine and deep blues seas, this missive comes to you from Porto Spilia near Spartakhori on the island of Meganisi – and while austere England shivers I will stay awhile basking in the Greek sunshine checking from time to time if anyone is still listening.
‘Normal’ service might be resumed on my return – if I can still find anything to raise the spirits back home. Meanwhile, for readers in Scotland, don’t forget that the Digital Scotland conference and exhibition with be held in Edinburgh on May 22.