Friday, July 28, 2006

Heroes of the TV Era

This morning I took some downtime and went for a walk around my local cemetery. Before you wonder if I'm edging towards the dark side, it's worth pointing out that the cemetery in question is in Hampstead and has more famously entombed people, such as Constable, than your average local graveyard (the more famous and fabulously gothic Highate cemetery, where Karl Marx is buried, is a mile away).

One of those interned is John Harrison, inventor of the maritime clock which solved the problem of ascertaining longitude at sea. He's a real hero of mine - a man who worked all his life on the same problem, first of all inventing a solution and then refining it. The consequences of his work were phenomenal and, indirectly, resulted in Britain building one of the largest empires the world has ever seen.

Even more interesting was the fact that he was largely forgotten until recently, it was the publication of a book by Dava Sobel chronicling his feat that resurrected his fame.

The television era has its own greats, starting with the two fathers of television, John Logie Baird and Philo Farnsworth (by a nice touch of irony, Narrowstep's CTO lives in Farnsworth Avenue in Huntingdon Beach); the content industry recently saw the passing away of one of its greats, Aaron Spelling and Lord Reith and his famous epithet 'to inform, educate and entertain' is revered as the father of public service broadcasting.

So, who will be the next name in the TV hall of fame? Or is the technology world now too crowded and competitive to generate another Harrison ? Perhaps the truth is that we all make small contributions to the massive changes going on all around us, but it's rare for one person to make a difference any more.

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