This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Outside the box. A long way outside the box

This post has an ethical dimension, and I strongly defend my position, but feel free to have a pop. Last Wednesday I and a number of colleagues attended a show called 'Soldier Tech 2007'. It was as you might expect from the title, an exhibition and conference covering all the latest the a soldier my desire. It was very VERY interesting, and well worth attending as an innovator in broadcast technology.

The following day I presented an idea that had come from the inspiration of that show, and it appears not everyone thought it was quite as focused on the needs of broadcast as it ought to have been. Without going into the detail (it was a proposal to look at the dangers faced by journalists and technical crews in news gathering and see if we could help develop better protective gear for them- niche, but important) I strongly feel that an important point needs to be made here, and made very clearly:

To innovate means many things, including creating new ideas and developing them in new ways. It also means taking an idea from place and applying it in a new way. The Broadcast world is actually very small, I've been in it for perhaps five years now, two and a bit at the R&D end, and though I meet new people all the time, I do already recognise a 'horizon' to this world. Go to broadcast tech show after broadcast tech show, tv conference after conference, and you will soon see the same old stands, technologies, lectures one after another. Sure there will be announcements, new demos etc. but they will ave been leaks, murmurs before, and the application will already be sewn up, and the world keeps ticking on all the same. Groundhog innovation. Something of a non-sequiteur don't you think.

To any and all technologists and innovators out there- at least once this year, go to a show about which you no NOTHING- nada, didly squat- abut the application area. Two things will happen- you will learn new things and have new ideas, and so will the people there. It's a win win, and frankly if any of us are going to make any difference in our jobs, we have GOT to get out of our comfort zones. Swords do beget plough shares, but not by us hiding from them.

Harrumph, thas bedder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you have one really outstanding idea this year then this gets my nomination. Your choice of exhibition may be well outside my comfort zone, but the idea of pushing engineers outside the narrow world of broadcasting technology and exploring other fields where they might find fresh ideas to scavinge for broadcast applications is fundamental to innovation, particually when the broadcast engineering R&D community is shrinking so fast.