Increasing data security? The horse has already bolted

Has the data security horse bolted?


Don’t want your data getting shared around in cyber space? Don’t put it there in the first place, argues Gregory Kris

Parliament’s Intelligence Security Committee (ISC) have just released their annual report that says that cyber protection needs to become more aggressive and that the UK should declare cyber war on states and criminals who target the country, by using aggressive (and occasionally covert) retaliatory strikes.

This sounds like a great 1980s movie, like War Games (spoiler alert: the password is ‘Joshua’) or Hackers starring a young Angelina, but instead of the enemy being big hairy men from the Kremlin, it’s faceless enemies of the state, hell bent on causing mayhem from their bedrooms. cf; Lulz Sec, Anonymous or any of the other disruptive Antisec hacker groups.

As a result of this Hollywood indoctrination,  coupled negative news stories and apocryphal stories of  widespread identity theft, there’s a pervasive and somewhat justified fear that these groups, and 419 scam artists ( - is a great way to waste 30 or 40 minutes over lunch) are after our personal details in order to ruin our lives.

The arguments for increased data protection are strong and reasonable, and it’s wise to take as many precautions as you can. But you can go too far the other way.

My friend’s mum, for example, will not give her son her bank account number over the phone, just in case someone is listening in on her phone calls. I pity the master criminal whose job is it to listen in on Mrs Jenkinson’s phone on the off chance that she’ll let that vital snippet of information slip.  But if he’s been listening carefully and taking notes over the last 20 years, he should be able to piece it together based on the cryptic clues she’s been leaving.

So here are some thoughts on why increased data security may be undesirable:

Secure doesn’t mean Secure

If an individual sees that a site is PCI compliant, Thawte certified, or advertises that they have terms that note that ‘we will not share your data with anyone’, then the natural assumption is that ‘this site is secure’. This is not always the case. Even sites compliant with the new EU data protection rules promise to deliver more than is practical. By taking responsibility away from individuals and replacing it with a legal framework, they may create unreasonable expectations for privacy and a false sense of safety and security online.

The right to know

It’s been postulated that data is the oil of the information age. How much oil do we need to keep the wheels of society turning? In some instances, the ‘right to know’, may be more important than the ‘right to not share’.

The truth is out there

Once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to put him back in again. When dealing with data, as soon as it’s out there, someone will take it, use it, re-distribute it, and even resell it.

It then propagates across the web, or is archived, cached or replicated further. If you say something in the web, then it’s very hard to ‘un-say’ it. Data protection rules that allow you to remove your own data are impractical and may be ineffective.

Can businesses afford data protection?

Implementing data protection can be costly – especially retro-fitting data protection and security when the laws change. This extra expense in the current climate is not at all desirable, and individuals might reasonably expect that corners may have been cut or businesses haven’t got the budget to get round to it yet.  So the price of data protection may be the death of a number of small businesses, which is not going to help the economy.

Frankly, the wisest way forward may just be the simplest:

Be responsible for your own data

The net is like a megaphone and anyone who is part of it, can chose to listen in to your conversation. Anyone who posts, writes, inputs or participates online, is at risk of having their details discovered or uncovered.

But rather than blaming the online businesses and destinations, or refusing to engage in the digital age, individuals should take greater responsibility for the personal data they upload online. Nobody is forcing individuals to upload personal information to social networking sites. If they don’t want their information out there – then don’t share it.

Gregory Kris is an original dot-com CEO, selling his first digital business, a social network, in 2000. Since then he has run and sold two start-ups, advised on numerous others, and invested in a couple more, with varying results. A firm believer that ‘data is the oil of the digital economy’, Greg is currently CEO of Decibel, the music metadata specialists, and has been called ‘Europe’s first Digital Data Baron’. You can follow him on twitter at @gregkris or email him

How the hyperlink generation will kill Sunday afternoon naps

 There was a time where one would watch a film (movie / talkie / cinematic oeuvre) and spend an enjoyable 90 minutes trying to figure out where you’d seen that actor before.

To most, a familiar and hugely frustrating experience that detracts from the essential viewing experience of following the plot, admiring the special effects, listening to the score, or enjoying the cinematography. But to some, a growing minority it turns out, it’s an essential part of the viewing experience.

We’ve known for a long time that although the internet has done a great deal for improving our access to geographically dispersed family members, and allowing people to work in their dressing gowns, the one thing it must never be forgiven for is its ability to ruin a good argument before it starts.

How nice it is to watch a movie, and then spend the evening at dinner discussing who is the better director; Hitchcock or Scorsese. No longer. Now you would just go to IMDB, tot up the ratings for all their movies, and arrive at an average per movie rating to kill a good argument in the bud.

But it gets worse.

Now, with split-screen, lean-forward consumer-engaged buzzword-laden technologies, such as the Connected TV start-up Zeebox, or RedBee’s RedDiscover, the argument is killed before it even starts.

Now you watch films at home, or at the cinema, with your smart phone on vibrate, constantly being fed details on the musical score, the actor’s biography, or about the casting director that suddenly makes the experience so much more rewarding.

The key, it turns out, is that the way people discover and consume media is changing. The user no longer desires an experience in isolation, nor is he limited by the extent of his imaginatio when it comes to consuming media.

Services such as Youtube, Google, Vimeo, IMDB, Virgin TV, offer a wealth of experiences and access, but among this ‘hyperlink generation’ it is no longer a lean back and ‘be spoon-fed’ experience. Through these tools and more, we’re told that media has become something to engage with and to be immersed in.

So, a nice passive, ‘sit down and enjoy’ type experience is flying out of the window.

It’s the same with TV.

This year, Sky and the BBC are sharing rights for Formula 1. If Sky’s soccer coverage is anything to go by, there will be a host of terrible ‘interactive’ features – press the red button to see the view from Lewis Hamilton’s girlfriend-cam and to listen to his car stereo.

We may have the technology, but I’m not sure we have the energy to be so engaged with the TV.

An F1 grand prix used to be a perfect excuse for an afternoon snooze. This was as true in my dad’s day as it is in mine – the intertwining melody of my dad’s snoring, Ayrton’s McLaren and Murray’s microphone is an enduring memory.

Media for the hyperlink generation may be a clear and present trend in this increasingly accessible world of connected media and devices, but as a result, Sunday naps may be consigned to history as we instead reach for the red button, and our iPad, and our smartphone, to have an immersive experience.

This may be fine for the hyperlink generation, but naptime is important for the older digital warrior. They’re the ones who finance all this innovation, and if they get grouchy through lack of sleep, the funding for innovative connect TV may dry up.

How Data can save the Music Industry

First published on

By Charlotta Hedman

In the 80s Nic Garnett was working as a copyright lawyer in Asia, trying to keep bootleg cassettes off the shelves. It was a mission that proved difficult if the shelves then stayed empty, after the pirated products had been removed.

- We had to make sure that affordable, legitimate products replaced those we removed. Otherwise the bootlegs would be back on the shelves almost straight away.

Today it is more difficult to distinguish a pirated product from a legitimate one. There is a lot less about an mp3-file that screams piracy than there is about a physical product with a photocopied cover. But Garnett believes there are tools for fighting piracy in a post-Napster world – one of them is metadata. Garnett doesn’t believe this will eradicate piracy, but he does believe that copyright is as valuable and necessary as it was when it was first invented, arguably even more so.

- The creative industries haven’t managed to completely figure out a way to make copyright work in a new environment.

Garnett explains that copyright provides the framework to extract economic value out of the creative process. However the laws protecting copyrights aren’t working at the moment, the same regulation that worked in the 20th century isn’t working in the 21st century.

Back when copyright was still working there was a scarcity of physical products. Today it is near impossible to stop music or movies from being shared. This is why, Garnett explains, value is shifting from the ability to exercise control over copyright to having information and data about how the work is being used. According to Garnett metadata holds one of the keys to getting back to legitimate markets. Rights-holders can develop, own and deploy metadata and with the help of this information extract economic value. The problem is the creative industries aren’t necessarily doing enough yet to work together and get on the data bandwagon, instead a lot of metadata systems are being developed by third parties. Something that according to Garnett means the music industry is potentially missing out on financial gain.

There are several companies analysing and refining data for the music industry, like Gracenote and Decibel. However the real data giants are companies like Facebook and Google.

- From a technical point of view, if Google decided to run copyright for the world, they could easily do it with their information processing capability, explains Garnett.

This would mean coding up music and movies and providing an information management service. Google already tried to do a similar things with books, which lead to expensive and lengthy lawsuits between the associations like the Authors Guild of America and Google.

Google started digitising books in 2004, but authors became worried when users could view snippets of copyrighted books for free. Google were asked to pay a hundred million dollar settlement to rights-holders in 2008, but that didn’t stop the case from being in and out of the courts in the States, Europe and China. In the most recent development in the case a federal judge in the US rejected the earlier settlement saying

“while the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA [Amended Settlement Agreement] would simply go too far. It would permit this class action — which was brought against defendant Google Inc. to challenge its scanning of books and display of ‘snippets’ for on-line searching — to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners”.

This ruling in effect means that Google wont be able to sell copyrighted works through Google Books. Although according to Garnett, this is probably not a huge blow to the company.

- They are more interested in the content and the information.
- If Google decided to create a global copyright database it would mean a private American corporation has all that information, that sort of power has not been seen before.

The solution, according to Garnett, is for the creative industries to preempt this and create their own “global music grid”.

- It is important to coordinate data and push the system into global markets. The communications industry have managed to do this successfully. It is possible to phone a friend in India, because the mobile network is standardised. There is no reason why we can’t do the same for data.

Third parties like Google, Facebook or companies like Gracenote and Decibel could then fit into the system.

- It’s a better basis to protect music and for working with value-add partners. Meta-data will help create new services that people will want to pay for, just like we needed to get legitimate products back on the shelves in Asia, says Garnett.

Nic Garnett is a solicitor who is consulting with WIPO among others. He has worked with copyright for over 30 years. He will be speaking at the Music 4.5 data event on the 18th of April.

SOPA could be a good thing – policing the internet is the only way forward

Policing the internet


In his first column, our digital maestro Gregory Kris defies his native tech industry to voice support for the controversial SOPA bill that has so enraged it

What did we learn from the disruptive Wikipedia blackout last month?

That we use the site as a factual crutch without which we are left scrambling around in the dark for answers…and that threats to the freedom and welfare of the internet are taken very personally.

However while people promulgated the negative and restrictive effects that the SOPA bill would have had [Stop Online Piracy Act, which the tech industry widely believes would strangle freedom of online speech], they seemed to overlook the notional positives to be gained from a policing of the internet.

The internet is the place to share endless thought and create limitless connections over an infinite hyperspace medium, but it’s also a forum for detrimental contributions and has the potential for incredibly damaging thought in a shared space.

Some of the strongest demonstrations of social cohesion to come out of the internet age, such as Facebook and Twitter, have also housed some of the most dangerous episodes of human thought.

“If I were to stand in the middle of Oxford Street hurling racist abuse at the top of my lungs, there would be repercussions, and quite rightly so.”

Since the internet has become a mainstream phenomenon, and this has been a good few years in the offing now, it has offered a huge proportion of the general populace the chance to interact in a completely new way, and what’s more, it offers no limitations.

Over time, as we’ve seen the influence of the internet grow, people have started to utilise the potential of a medium that has no consequences, for good as well as bad.

Anti-social behaviour perpetuated by the internet ranges from the mild (i.e. trolling comment sections on digital broadsheets) to the dangerous (using social media to provoke public disorder).

If I were to stand in the middle of Oxford Street hurling racist abuse at the top of my lungs, there would be repercussions, and quite rightly so.

However, writing something equally inflammatory on a discussion board of the Mail Online, for example, would reach tens of thousands more people, and would incite no more reprisal than a comment removal or being blocked from interacting with the site.

Both of these obstacles are easily scaled by even the most rudimentary of internet users.

“An internet license would undoubtedly make usage a far more pleasurable experience”

The truth is, the more we treat the internet as a society, the more people should have to answer for their actions.

We have licenses to drive cars, why can’t we have licenses to use the internet? Why isn’t there a minimum proficiency for someone to use a tool that affects millions of people? Try and enforce a best practice on the digital highway and reward malpractice with points. Punish continued misuse by enforcing limited internet privileges.

It’s not a matter of being draconian, it’s about retaining order in an emerging and unruly society, it’s about stopping piracy and billions of pounds being lost due to illegality and about retaining integrity in the face of damaging opinions and sedition.

Most importantly, it’s about accountability.

There is no set practice for usage of the internet and we’ve reaped the ill-rewards of unfettered online activity – why can’t, at the age of 13, teenagers now have to demonstrate that they realise the importance and respect the rules of this online society?

It’s a small matter to implement, and a great way to enforce the morality of action and consequence in a public space.

What’s more, by assigning a tag to everyone on the internet, not only could we track malpractice, but we could also start to generate incredibly accurate metrics of usage, giving an indication of a global populace’s wants and desires.

An internet license would undoubtedly make usage a far more pleasurable experience. As a medium that demands respect, a way of placing restrictions on the untempered human imagination can only be a good thing.

Ironically, I realise that by writing something like this will probably polarise a lot of people and encourage the sort of anonymous internet ire that I’ve written about controlling here.

Gregory Kris is an original dot-com CEO, selling his first digital business, a social network, in 2000. Since then he has run and sold two start-ups, advised on numerous others, and invested in a couple more, with varying results. A firm believer that ‘data is the oil of the digital economy’, Greg is currently CEO of Decibel, the music metadata specialists, and has been called ‘Europe’s first Digital Data Baron’. You can follow him on twitter at @gregkris or email him

Decibel’s host in the cloud, Microsoft’s Windows Azure

Decibel Music Systems is proud to have partnered with the Microsoft cloud platform, Windows Azure, to bring you its music discovery system.

Windows Azure allows developers to quickly build and deploy applications across a global network of Microsoft managed datacentres, and has partnered with hundreds of companies in the UK. As Decibel’s enterprise clients are open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we needed a cloud service with a guaranteed service level uptime that only Azure could provide.

Azure has recently published a case study reference ebook viewable through koodibook, to showcase the portfolio of software and innovation that its cloud platform currently delivers.

You can check it out, here.

‘What A Wonderful World This Would Be’

The fact that every digital music service is developing in what music industry writer Eliot Van Buskirk describes as its own “data silo” is a problem for music fans, artists and music industry, alike.

As a music fan, for instance, if you decide you want to switch from using Spotify to another streaming music service, right now, all your playlists are not transferable. For some, this ties them into a £10 annual subscription with their current service; while others are deterred by this from subscribing to any at all. The solution to this problem is simple: one big industry standard music database, one that allocates every song a unique identifier, so the switching of music services would be made possible – smooth, even.

One big database of music would also ease industry mergers like those we have seen recently with digital music services Rhapsody and Napster, Myspace and imeem. It would also facilitate the integration of all streaming services with social media networks, music magazines and blogs, which in turn would inspire even more listening to music and sharing of it.

The upshot of this is, of course, the generation of more payments to artists, writers, record labels, publishers and collection societies – some of whom currently don’t trust the new digital services. And if plays can be monitored more accurately, then payments can made more efficiently.  This would inspire more artists and labels to make their music available through streaming music sites, and as Van Buskirk puts it poetically, “tiny rivuletes of melting snow [to] become great rushing rivers”

These are just some of the benefits of one big database of music. At Decibel we already have a database consisting of over 1 billion pieces of data, comprised of around 12 million tracks and 1.1 million albums, and over 150 pieces of information for each track.  A series of APIs for this database, which has the potential to become industry standard, will be begin to be available to subscribers very soon, so watch this space.

The deeper financial implications of such an industry standard music database for all involved in the music making process are explained in more detail in Van Buskirk’s recent piece for You can read it in its entirety, here.


The debate: Is HMV sounding its own death knell by selling HMV Live?

HMV store


Last year saw HMV Group hit the headlines time and time again for all of the wrong reasons. Should it really be selling its live music arm?

Scanning Wednesday’s headlines I happened across a subject that never fails to catch my eye; the fate of British icon HMV. It’s a sad tale filled with “jaw dropping statistics” (thanks Robert Peston), the jettisoning of much loved brands (goodbye formerly-HMV-owned Waterstones) and baying hyenas waiting for the scraps of HMV’s crumbled pillars (enter the VCs).

So what’s new? Bidders have started to line up, ready to battle it out for the ownership of HMV’s live music arm, HMV Live.

The events group Festival Republic (of Leeds Festival, Reading Festival and Latitude fame) have apparently expressed interest, as have investment groups Oakley Capital and Pacific Capital.

This got me to thinkin’.

Isn’t live music flourishing in the face of an ailing music industry!? I can’t remember the last time I walked into HMV to buy a CD or DVD but I am going to the HMV Forum next month to watch one of my favourite bands.

Why is the music giant selling off its increasingly profit-making arm in an attempt to save its already very sick brother?

Last year HMV Live, which has built up its portfolio of 13 venues and two successful festivals (Lovebox and Global Gathering) had a good year. It enjoyed a buoyant festival season with attendances up by more than 20 per cent and spend per head at its live venues was up 10 per cent. HMV Live made £3.4m profit in the 26 weeks to October 2011, up from £1.5m during the same period in 2010.

Meanwhile like-for-like retail sales at HMV as a whole fell 13.2 per cent in the seven weeks to December 17. The share price for HMV currently stands at a woeful 3.5p. Just to put this into perspective – it was £1.30 in 2007.

Back in May the decision was made to sell-off book chain Waterstone’s. A lamentable decision no doubt, but given the steady decline of book stores (just look at Borders), perhaps it was a good call.

And yet the decision has been made to hold onto HMV retail stores, which are haemorrhaging money at an unmerciful rate. As the BBC’sPeston pointed out last year, there are no equivalents to the HMV store left in America.

Saying this – the HMV store plan has altered. The decision had been made to refit the stores to accommodate the sale of technology products such as iPods and tablets.

This should in theory support the digital arm of the business – HMV Group has 50 per cent ownership of a digital downloads business called 7digital. But the success of 7digital, and the share in income from downloads that HMV is set to receive, do not require bricks and mortar.

If I am going to buy a tablet or some form of music playing device, I won’t be doing it in my local HMV store. Is this really the way to save the business?

I desperately hope that I am wrong and that HMV has a bright future. With that in mind, I’ve decided to ask some experts. Here’s what they have to say:

“Live music is stong…but HMV needs to look for a media product that everyone has in their houses where the ‘physical’ product still has legs”

Spencer Hyman

Spencer Hyman

Spencer Hyman, former COO at and founder and CEO of Artfinder:

“I agree that live music is strong and has a tonne of interesting advantages versus the recorded music business.  Live music has its own challenges though.

“How much longer are the kids who grew up with the Police, Genesis etc. going to be up for (trying) to bop?

“More seriously though, there are a couple of large heavyweights in this business already such as LiveNation, TicketMaster, ATG, CTS in Germany.

“And the large show and festival markets look well saturated – so they too are looking at the smaller venues.

“More importantly, check out what is happening on the secondary ticketing market for some acts – these tickets from day one are already selling at a discount to face value, combine this with the burnout rate for most bands and you can see that whilst “Live” a nice big market, it’s not without its challenges.

“I suspect that the answer to your question as to which bit should they sell (assuming that they have to sell something) is more a question of who would buy the stores and at what price?  In revenue / turnover terms the stores are where the money is – but as you infer, it’s hard to see how to generate growth or revenues or margin here.

“They’ve tried gaming – but gaming isn’t as great as it was, and when we launched Amazon’s Gaming offering in 2000 we “won” the day of release market too.  Movies and TV are hanging on – but like music, the writing is on the wall for where the streaming versus purchase battle will end.

“So given that they need cash, it’s hard to see who would buy the physical stores, the question is what do they have left to sell?  Answer – live music.  As to where that leaves them, good question.

“They should have been able to do something in music streaming (e.g., buy or Spotify) – but it’s a bit late now.  Ditto movies but Lovefilm and Netflix have sewn this up.

“In books, the one chance that the group had was to try and do what Barnes and Noble are trying to do with the Nook, their version of the Kindle.  And Simon Fox did try this – but with the sale of Waterstones, HMV’s book-related social networking site aNobii struggled.

“So that just leaves games and how to you play versus XboxLive and PlayStation (or Zynga) as a bricks and mortar play?

“So my suggestion would be that HMV look for a media product that everyone has in their houses where the “physical” product still has legs. Wonder what that is?  Try Art! (And please, please don’t say “merchandise” – Tshirts sell at gigs and slippers are the preserve of M&S and Peacocks).”

“Digital is where it’s at at the moment…now is not the time to sell real estate”

Gregory Kris

Gregory Kris

Gregory Kris, CEO, Decibel Music Systems Limited:

“HMV’s stock price has been in rapid decline and this seems like a quick fix that could stop the nose dive. It’s a big impact sell that could pull its stock back up and keep shareholders happy. As far as I am aware HMV is remaining fully invested in their digital music offering 7digital. Digital music is the place to be at the moment so I think that’s the right decision.

“I know that HMV’s retail venues are losing money at a high rate but its retail arm is valuable in terms of real estate and now is definitely not the time to be selling properties.

“HMV seems to be focusing on technology instead of the live side of its business – focusing on selling the hardware needed to use its digital offering.  iPods, tablets, laptops seem to be a big part of its new strategy.

“There are two areas making money in music at the moment – digital and live. Live is making more than digital at the moment but HMV has its stores in prime locations up and down the country and its digital product – so I think selling the live arm is the best chance of making a bang for its buck.

“I think whether or not the live arm is bought by venture capitalists or the interested events company – it will end up in the hands of live festival organisers and they are in the best place to make the most out of the products.”

“It’s a shortsighted move on HMV’s part”

James Booth

James Booth

James Booth, CEO, Rockabox Media

“This is an interesting one. The traditional music store is significantly challenged with digital downloads being as they are; it’s certainly a case of reinvent or suffer.

“Live music will always be important and the advent of social media has given much more energy to sharing experiences.

“More recently major brands have become drawn to live music as a vehicle for reaching a broad audience and penetrating social groups.

“I think it is a shortsighted move on HMV’s part; there are new models to explore around live music and the merchandise potential can’t be ignored.”

“HMV would definitely hold on to the Live music arm…if they had any choice in the matter”

Jonny Woolf

Jonny Woolf

Jonny Woolf, co-founder,

“HMV are sitting on a debt mountain of £164m which they need to reduce, they are closing shops and concentrating on selling assets to reduce their debt burden.

“Selling HMV live is a fairly logical step in a period of contraction and I don’t think it can be avoided.

“Their live music arm has clear synergies with HMV’s other operations and live music is holding up fairly well in terms of overall leisure spending.

“In terms of the market itself, live music has seen incredible growth in the past decade growing from about £500m in 2003 to around £1.4bn currently and recorded music has fallen from about £2bn in 2003 to around a £1bn.

“So if they had any choice in the matter I think they’d hold onto HMV Live which is likely to be a strong asset for any potential purchaser.”

Government backs classroom coding lessons, but do tech experts agree?

Government backs classroom coding lessons, but do tech experts agree? | Features |

Today, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport admitted that the current ICT programme in schools is insufficiently rigorous and in need of reform.

The government was responding to a report calling for an overhaul of computer science education in schools. The Next Gen report, first published in October, argued that the UK could be a global hub for the video games and special effects industries if there was a shake-up of the education system.

The Next Gen campaign makes many suggestions to make the current curriculum more relevant for today’s technological environment, the most talked-about being the possible introduction of coding into the curriculum.

“Coding is the new Latin,” says Alex Hope, co-author of Next Gen. “We need to give kids a proper understanding of computers if they’re to compete for all kinds of jobs.”

Google, Microsoft and other leading names in tech have vouched their support for the Next Gen campaign.

So should the UK adopt the changes suggested and start teaching code in schools?

The risks of falling behind in technology as a country seem to suggest that some curriculum change is definitely needed.

Said the government press office today: “The government recognises that many of the skills demanded by employers are equally desired in the much wider economy, from business software, telecoms and social media to financial services, fighting cyber-crime and designing the next advances in aviation.”

The BBC reported that the number of students opting to study computer science has fallen from 5 per cent to 3 per cent with only 13,600 school leavers applying to study the subject last year. Also rather worryingly 87 per cent of those where male.

In light of the discussion we thought we’d ask some of London’s tech experts whether or not they agree with the proposed changes.

The results were mixed, but it would seem that our respondents don’t believe that the answer lies simply in coding.

Gregory Kris, CEO, Decibel Music Systems Limited

“I don’t think it benefits everyone to know how to code. It is a particular skill, like building a house – not everybody needs to know how to do it. Children should have a basic understanding of how [code] works, but if they all learn to code, by the time they finish school the code will have changed anyway.

“The key for me is innovation. We are never going to compete in price with coders of the sub-continent. I have always advocated that good coding doesn’t make a good developer. You need to have commercial understanding, know what your options are and how to develop a product in the market place.

“We need to make computer science something that makes your mother proud. Look at the situation in Israel: mothers want their children to grow up not to be lawyers, but entrepreneurs.

“We need to make it a desirable job to have. We need to make sure that there is funding available for entrepreneurs. We need to give our entrepreneurs a better standing in society.

“That will make computer science a more desirable subject to study [rather than enforcing it in school]. Nobody studies psychology before they do a psychology degree [but psychology is still popular].

“As for attracting women to study computer science, I think there is an absence of female role models in the sector. There are plenty of female entrepreneurs; they need to reach out to the next generation. It is something that is happening in the gaming sector as more and more women become gamers, and that is a good pointer as to how we might make computer science more desirable to women. That development has been organic.”

Chris Alner, managing director - UK, Massive Interactive

“If there is to be evolution of the curriculum then it is important that it is up to date. This is not a question of pandering to the latest fads in teaching methodology, but [rather] ensuring that our future workforce has the right skills to compete in the workplace, both nationally and internationally.

“Clearly there should be a rounded education to produce rounded individuals and this should not be designed to pass over a ‘classical’ education. Certainly an overview of the requirements and options within areas of digital employment should be included at all levels of secondary education so that there can be increased focus on tertiary [post-school] education.”

Robert Higginson, partner, Par Equity

“With a little exposure to the way high school computer education is delivered, I certainly think there is room for improvement in terms of the method of delivery and and scope [of secondary school computer science education], which seems too heavily focused on training students on how to use Microsoft Office applications. Clearly that is an important skill to have, but hardly the most inspiring of introductions to fascinating world of informatics, of which computer science is part.

“However, introducing coding [as a stand-alone subject] as part of the curriculum is far too narrow.

“I believe young people should be introduced to Technology & Innovation, which will take in advances in energy, bio-engineering and often the young start-ups that are being set-up to commercialise the science.”


Decibel Team’s Top Tens: CEO Greg Kris’s Top Ten Michael Jackson Songs

This Top Ten is inspired by Greg’s enjoyment of the film ‘This Is It‘, which documents Michael Jackson’s rehearsals and preparation for his tour of the same name that was cancelled due to his death. The film is now the highest grossing concert movie and documentary in the history of cinema. (source: Wikipedia

  • 10. PYT
  • 9. Human Nature
  • 8. Bad
  • 7. Thriller
  • 6. Wanna be startin’ something
  • 5. The Girl is Mine
  • 4. Smooth Criminal
  • 3. The Way you Make me Feel
  • 2. Man in the Mirror
  • 1. Billie Jean

Decibel Team’s Top Tens: CEO Greg Kris’s Top Ten Beatles Songs:

10. Hey Jude: Released: 26 February 1970, labels: Capitol (US), Parlophone (UK).

9. Ballad of John and Yoko: One of the few songs that have a title that’s not sung in the lyrics. Written by John Lennon, attributed to Lennon/McCartney. Released May 1969.

8. Norwegian Wood: (This Bird Has Flown) From the 1965 album Rubber Soul, it is also the first example of a rock band playing the sitar in one of their songs.

7. Twist & Shout: (Phil Medley/Bert Russell) From their first album Please Please Me.

6. Back in the USSR: 1968 song by The Beatles. Credited to the song writing partnership Lennon/McCartney, but primarily written by Paul McCartney. Released as a single in Great Britain in 1976.

5. Taxman: Written by George Harrison and opening track on The Beatles’ 1966 album Revolver.

4. Drive my Car: Primarily written by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon. Released on the British version of the 1965 album Rubber Soul.

3. Lovely Rita: From the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Written and sung by Paul McCartney. Credited to Lennon/McCartney.

2. Yesterday: Released as part of the Yesterday EP: 4 March 1966, Parlophone (UK)
It spent 13 weeks on the UK hit parade.

1. Come Together: Written by John Lennon, credited: Lennon/McCartney. It is the opening track on The Beatles’ September 1969 album Abbey Road.