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Why It Is Smart For Tech to Play Dumb

Gordon Kelly


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Did you know that as of this week David Beckham works for Samsung? Or that will.i.am has been 'director of creative innovation' at Intel since January? What about Lady Gaga's 'product development' job at Polaroid? Yes, they are all fatuous. Yes, they are marketing gimmicks. But they are also symbolic of something hugely encouraging...


First let's wind you up with some quotes.

"I'm very proud to be part of the team that brought the Olympics to my home city, London," said David Beckham in a vague statement following his no doubt lucrative deal with Samsung. "It is one of the greatest events in the world. Working with a globally respected brand, like Samsung, our aim will be to help more and more people to enjoy and share the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic Games."

"Nearly everything I do involves processors and computers, and when I see an Intel chip I think of all the creative minds involved that help to amplify my own creativity,” said an equally out of his depth will.i.am. "Teaming up with the scientists, researchers and computer programmers at Intel to collaborate and co-develop new ways to communicate, create, inform and entertain is going to be amazing."

Do we really think David Beckham can teach Samsung something about user interfaces or will.i.am had anything to do with Intel's 22nm 3D transistor breakthrough? Of course not. Why we hate these deals is because it offends our tech sensibilities that some random celebrity can receive a monumental amount of cash (and no doubt a huge number of goodies) for knowing virtually nothing about technology and smile all the way to the bank. Prada dumbphones? Swarovski encrusted TVs? Thankfully they are all part of a positive bigger picture.

In short technology advertising is getting dumber because technology has become popular. Pandering to the masses has its downsides, but it is representative of the fact that today it is chic to be a geek. Mainstream tech knowledge may not have passed much beyond The Gadget Show, but at least The Gadget Show exists... on mainstream TV... for people of all ages. Besides knowledge isn't everything. The point of gadgets now is they evolved to the level where almost anyone can use and enjoy them – even two year olds. Computer games are not the domain of mole-eyed nerds, top titles generate income on a par with Avatar. If you're ever more frequently asked for tech support from friends and family members remember this is because more non-technical friends and family have been encouraged to hop on the tails of the revolution. David Beckham may have done that.

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