The vast majority of the Nokia World conference is tech-focused, as you’d expect. But I’ve just come out of a strange session hosted by Clive Anderson, which focused on how celebrities are using mobile technology. Actually, it was more like an episode of Grumpy Old Men/Women, given that they were moaning quite a lot.
Anyway, Ruud Gullit was here live, in the flesh, talking about how he uses technology, and in particular how he doesn’t like to read manuals when he buys a new gadget. “I think of it as a puzzle,” he said. “I open it, put it on and then try to find my way through. If there’s really something I can’t find how to do, then I look in the manual.”
Right now, tens of thousands of Newcastle United fans are punching their keyboards in frustration and wishing he’d done that when he was in charge of their football club. But he also had other stuff to say about the role gadgets play in a happy household. Or otherwise.
After a video clip of Brooke Shields saying she has to get her husband to talk her through new gadgets before she can get the hang of them – and how she must be thanking her lucky stars she didn’t marry Michael Jackson on that score – Ruud said the same thing happens round his gaff.
“Whenever I have something new like a video phone, I have to explain it, but she always says ‘not now!’. So when I call her to try it out, she doesn’t know what to do! And I say ‘look, I just tried to do a video call with you’.”
At this point, Clive Anderson pointed out that perhaps Mrs Gullit doesn’t want to put the videophone on at that particular moment – “I don’t want to cause trouble for you…” – which got a laugh from the crowd (and Ruud, thankfully). “It’s like a battlefield,” he continued. “The wife doesn’t want to admit she can’t do it, but in the end she’ll say I was right. It’s more like warfare…”
Also good was the appearance of Joanna Lumley via pre-recorded video, who started by rhapsodising about “a tiny seperate little palm-sized piece of Faberge equipment in my hand”, before getting onto some serious grumping.
“What’s frustrating is when it doesn’t work,” she said. “Of course, I get out the manuals, but I realise that the manuals almost expect me to understand the terminology. Words like option, select, quit or exit. Is quitting the same as exiting? If I quit, will the whole phone blow up?”
Very funny, although not quite as funny as the expressions on dozens of middle-aged technology journalists’ faces as they listened to Joanna Lumley say the words ‘option’, ‘select’, ‘quit’ and ‘exit’. They’ll be telling their grandchildren about that for years.
Meanwhile, Clive Anderson revealed his initial misgivings about mobile phones (“I met this guy who had one, and all he could do was call his wife to see if the milk had been delivered, and call the guy who’d installed it in his car to say it was working okay. I thought ‘this’ll never catch on…), but the last word should go to that man Ruud Gullit, on the “magic” of mobile phones.
“It’s like an old LP,” he said. “You know that the needle is there, and you put the record on here, and then music comes out. But you don’t know how it works…”
A bit like a well-drilled Premiership defence etc etc etc. Right, I’m off to see some technology. I don’t want celebrities: I want Men In Shirtsleeves Explaining Synergistic Consumer Solutions. Really.