Friday, February 17, 2006

Back from 3GSM

Well, as the title suggests, I'm back from the 3GSM World Congress, the monster mobile telecoms shindig held this year in Barcelona. The doctors tell me most of the bullshit should have passed through my system in a few days' time. Some points: Video-sharing through the IP Multimedia Subsystem, demonstrated at the show, sucks so badly it reminded me of early 80s Tomorrow's World reports on videophone trials at British Telecom Martlesham Heath (for US readers: like Bell Labs without money)...what did happen to all the WiMAX hype?...NTT DoCoMo's display of phones playing music through those tiny Marshall practice amps was absurdly cool (no pic, sorry, but no doubt BoingBoing will have it soon enough)'s still impossible to make Bellheads dance...and what is Hutchison Tel's game in encouraging high-end phone users to Skype over their UMTS datanet?

In the past the junket used to be held in Cannes. Before my time, but I can't imagine how anyone could stick it there. At least Barcelona offers considerable opportunities to escape the manic hysteria, knobjockey hucksterism and pervasive BS. Hell, you can even go see Edward "AFOE" Hugh, which is precisely what I did when the deranged postal worker fantasies began to set in.

It was curious, to say the least, to finally go there after years of hearing northern town hall politicians talk about it as a model - throughout the 90s the Leeds and Manchester city fathers barely stopped regarding it as a sort of ideal rival in culture, economic regeneration and (of course) sport. You could draw a chart of this tendency rising from the 1992 Olympics, dipping past Manchester United's stinging humiliation by Barca in 1994, David Beckham's first European appearance (and goal) a few weeks later in the return match, and peaking with Leeds United's win in 1999, before the plummet into securocratic Blairite gloom..

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