BBC Click – the Gates Interview

Bill GatesIt’s become a ritual thing for me these days, watching ‘Click’. It reminds me of my childhood, when I peeked from behind the sofa at the monstrous creations the BBC costume department could fashion for a couple of quid on Dr. Who. Although entirely horrified, I had to watch. And for me, a technical person, Click is exactly that. It’s also something of a journalistic litmus, where I can check that in the past week my output hasn’t dumbed down to Click’s level, or became as mired in mediocrity.
To show what a glutton for punishment I can be, I downloaded the latest instalment using BBC’s iPlayer Beta, which managed to crash IE 6 twice before it would allow me to select the show to download. It took a while after selection to arrive, so I had plenty of time to get comfy and arm myself with a cushion for the worst excesses.
And it wasn’t long before I reached for that cushion. This episode is practically a wall-to-wall advert for Microsoft, who I’ve noticed have become big chums with the BBC recently. The opening story is about a Microsoft project in the US to completely take over school and run it as an IT project. In it we where informed that due to the cashless cafeteria system the individual calorific content of each child could be monitored! Hey, why stop there why not just chip the kids?
But better was to come when the later half of the show was taken up with a Bill Gates interview. So given that this is one of the most powerful men in the world, and that Microsoft is the most influential companies you’d expect a least a few interesting questions. But alas, this was a PR junket for how Microsoft wants to be seen as nice to kids across the world, and make a better future for everyone. Then seemingly at random the interviewer threw in a question about Moore’s Law, which Gates brushed off as stupid, which is strangely where he and I would actually agree. And, after a few more ‘you’re so disgustingly rich, it must be cool’ questions they where done! Well actually they talked for longer, which is available online…I rushed to watch that, hoping at least one challenging question might surface. Sadly the extended version doesn’t. Where was the questions about Vista, and how it’s not making the inroads they expected? About Open Source, and how Microsoft is positioning itself? About the EU and being fined? About how we in the UK get to bay 70% more for the same software as the Americans? About the millions Microsoft spends lobbying the American political system, and who they’ll back for the next President?
And, a zillion other things many people who like to hear Bill talk about.
So once again the BBC let a genuine chance to actually get a real story go west, while the Microsoft PR machine called the shots and presented it’s promotional material. ‘Click’ I guess, is the sound made when you switch something off…if I could only do that!


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