Do you get it?

  • Richard Taylor
  • 6 Jan 07, 02:49 PM


Just arrived and settled in. Funny, every time I come to the States, it reminds me that Americans simply "get" technology on a cultural level - far more than the Europeans, at any rate.
And I'm not just talking those in the industry, either. Ordinary people here just buy into the tech lifestyle. Sitting at dinner with the Click team at the motel, I was interrupted mid-flow by our waiter, who'd been eavesdropping our conversation about hi-def compression and the emerging rival optical disc formats. (yes folks, we’re "that" interesting).

Funny, he said, he didn't buy into the idea of Blu-ray or HD-DVD players being intertwined with games consoles (the PS3 and Xbox360, respectively). After all, he argued, without a digital HDMI port on his Xbox 360 (and consequently being forced to use a simple component output) how was he to enjoy the full benefits of HD-DVD content on his full-HD DLP projector (component outputs, will only handle 1080i, not full 1080p. You knew that, right?)

Happily (for him, at any rate) we pointed out that the latest Xbox 360s will have HDMI as standard, to support the HD-DVD add-on.)

Las Vegas may culturally be a millions miles from the sophisticated Bay Area coffee shops - but even out here, observations like this about technology are not unusual. I simply can't imagine the same thing happening in deepest rural England.


Suffering from the invariable jet lag that afflicts me as my annual bedfellow on CES trips, I've woken up thinking about the day ahead. CES hasn't even begun, but my team and I are gearing up nicely. I've already tested our motel's wifi connection (802.11g - running to a fairly hefty broadband connection) and am using it to good effect. In years gone by this might have been to download e-mails and check pre-show rumours, but now it's a far richer landscape available to me.

My “Slingbox” hardware in my living room at home in London is streaming (sorry, “slinging”) the contents of my Sky PVR directly to my notebook via the net, in remarkably watchable quality. In a few hours I’m looking forward to having breakfast perched over a stream of the Arsenal/Liverpool FA Cup 3rd round clash (I can even watch it on my 3g phone and it doesn't look half-bad). My only is concern is that I may also be battling my two-year-old daughter (who is in the living room) over control of the channels.

This is one I'm determined to win, though ultimately if she nudges the Slingbox’s “magic eye” a fraction off the IR sensor of the Skybox I'll have no way of talking back to my machine and she'd have stuffed me. I’m looking to this year's CES to see what solutions might be on offer to solve this particular conundrum.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:27 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Joseph wrote:

Try Asia, technology in large Asian cities blows my mind. Even America appears backwards!

Oh my Gawd -what a wonderful world (said Armstrong)
It depends...
Mind the bed bugs,
George Todd

  • 3.
  • At 03:41 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Lewis wrote:

That's a bit of an overgeneralization I'm afraid. See, a lot of Americans are obsessed with video gaming, and learn the strict necessary when coming to all kinds of technological mindless entertainment. However, most continue to be shockingly technologically unsavvy where it counts; don't necessarily think that because they have the fastest Mario Party fingers they also know or care about other types of technology.

  • 4.
  • At 03:41 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Prashant wrote:

Quite honestly, technology is simply a means of getting from point A to point B. It is simply useful, nothing more. I certainly wouldn't be passionate about it. What Europeans lack in terms of technological awareness, they more than make up for in terms of cultural richness and a deeper understanding of human nature--two things Americans haven't a clue about.

  • 5.
  • At 03:42 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Erica B wrote:

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I have watched the effects of this technology culture seep out into the greater US. While this can perhaps be seen as an advantage in the modern world, this observation always brings me a twinge of sadness; in growing more tech savvy, we often lose sight of much of the world around us as our perspectives shift focus to rest on the speedy screens in front of us.

  • 6.
  • At 03:43 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • derek wrote:

Yeah, but sit in the same pub and ask them if they know about the war their country is currently engaged in and you'd get a blank look. Then ask them if they know where Iraq even is.

From an Englishman in the American midwest.

I agree with your point about awareness of HDMI and so forth, but there are areas where Americans are waaaaay behind, particularly when it comes to mobiles. If I have to listen to one more St Louisan bitch about his 'weekend minutes' and rave about the benefits of 'texting' (which the media still put in quotes in the US, having not yet entered the vernacular), I'll freak. All comes from not embracing GSM. And while I'm at it, how disappointed are you that at 9am California time on Tues you'll be listening to... Michael Dell at CES, and not Steve Jobs at MacWorld, where the real action is?

  • 8.
  • At 03:48 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Prashant wrote:

Of course, Americans are technologically aware. Who wouldn't be with all the material prosperity and lack of intellectual distractions that one finds on this continent?

Hmm, the latest 360's will have HDMI as standard? I can't wait to see how Microsoft will hand the PR nightmare of upgrading the 360 (speculation of HDMI, 120G hard disk and cooler therefore quieter processor)... it's going to have a very miffed install base possibly around the time the PS3 begins to gain market share.

Of interest to me at CES is the focus on increased network and storage capacity along with companies like Google. With the announcement of the first 1TB hard disk, ever increasing bandwidth to the home then surely these are the last days of competing storage formats... ever? pfff I'm sure the manufacturers will work out a way of making consumers constantly upgrade! It's a little like a year ago 720p and 1080i were going to be the standard TV formats for a longgg time, but now everyone is already talking about 1080p being the best thing to have as technology changes so fast.

  • 10.
  • At 03:49 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

I find it extraordinary that you can generalise about a whole continent based on a 5-minute conversation with a Las Vegas waiter.

HDMI, Blu Ray, XBOX are NOT Tomorrow's World. If this is the best you can do then the TV show will die after the first episode.

Look out for the Nintendo Wii in the second series of Tomorrow's World!


  • 11.
  • At 03:54 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Ricky wrote:

1080p is available over component outputs. You knew that, right?

  • 12.
  • At 04:01 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Elliot Smith wrote:

Las Vegas is not "deepest rural England" in any sense. Compare Vegas to Monaco or some other gambling mecca if you will. Vegas hosts tech confrences all year 'round.

  • 13.
  • At 04:10 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Steen Voigt wrote:

So, happy techno to you my friend.
How deeply uninteresting to talk about form without the slightest component of content.
But of course: this is your working area as a reporter, so you get all consumed. But please don´t continue to mix gadgets and wires with real people´s lives, thoughts and feelings. You´ll
get lost on the way.
best regards
Steen Voigt

  • 14.
  • At 04:18 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Thomas Goodey wrote:

Isn't it amazing that he has set up all this wonderful "slinging" technology, and all he can think of doing with it is watching football, which will infallibly rot his brain?

  • 15.
  • At 04:25 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Luke Sproule wrote:

This article actually surprises me. When I last visited the USA in 2005 I found most ordinary people to be very backward compared to Britain when it came to technology. Computers, telivisions, mobile phones etc. were all very outdated by British standards. Perhaps in cities such as Vegas people are more at ease with technology but from what I saw in Washington DC and Philadelphia, the USA has a long way to go as regards technology.

  • 16.
  • At 04:26 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

You wrote that at CES you will be seeking a solution to the risk of your daughter moving the Slingbox’s “magic eye” so that it cannot communicate with the IR sensor of the Skybox.

Eh, isn't that what a cable is for?!?

  • 17.
  • At 04:35 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • dave wrote:

Whoa.. hold on.. Did it ever occur to you that the reason things like that don't happen in rural England might be because in rural England, it is considered "bad maners" to listen to other peoples PRIVATE conversations.. If you were talking about your trouble with women and I butted in to tell you that it all stems from being a gadget-geek, you wouldn't be too happy.
Besides, yanks love acronyms, they may know the words, but do they know how it all works? Like lasers and frequencys and stuff?

  • 18.
  • At 04:40 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Iain wrote:

Americans do NOT "get technology" in general. There are pockets, largely around Silicon Valley, where Americans live and breath technology. In the main they are backward in both its use and consumer adoption. Look at mobile phone technology as an example of where Europe and Asia dominate the world. Technology per se is more than CES and more than Google. Ultimately innovation and creativity flourish in the UK and Europe and Asia. Don't be swayed by the hype.

  • 19.
  • At 04:42 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Brian Reffin Smith wrote:

Oh dear! - one more example of the impoverished and impoverishing (when broadcast) thought that only what's happening NOW counts. Again, and again, this guff will be outmoded, laughably outdated, transcended. And Americans (especially), and apparently, with respect, yourself, will not "get" the fact that this Zeitgeist is determined not by considerations of culture but by the forms and "sensitivities" of marketing.
Wow! Whoo! Yippee! Yikes! Techno-cheer-leading? No thanks...

  • 20.
  • At 04:45 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The general population don't understand technology: computer scientists understand tecnology and technical engineers understand technology. The general population are meerly just try to keep in touch with what their new copy of they geeky magazine says is cool.

What real use is it to know what output formats different games consoles have built in anyway -- it's of no practical importance to 99% of people.

What is more amazing is how some many Americans can remember so much rubbish about the latest gadgets yet seem completely oblivious to everything else going on in the world.

  • 21.
  • At 04:58 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Anders wrote:

Americans are not technologically aware. Some might know a lot about gadgets, but few understand the bigger picture. I happen to be in Washington DC, where I am amazed by the poor standards of all kinds of infrastructure: water, roads, tele communications, etc. Cell phone coverage is like Europe 15 years ago. Some cities are better, many are worse. And the most interesting thing of all: noone complains. This is the kind of entry that makes me think that someone somewhere has to draw a line between "gadget journalism" and proper reporting on technology, including consumer products. Why not BBC?

  • 22.
  • At 04:59 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Andre Vornic wrote:

My experience, having lived in America in recent years, has been the exact opposite: that of a suprisingly low-tech nation. Even in NYC, the basic phone system remains primitive and overpriced. Mobile phone technology is similarly underperfoming, and whole chunks of the country still lack adequate coverage. Banking is years behind: much of US business hates the idea of electronic payments and is still wedded to the cheque. A fair proportion of consumer services are cash-only. Some simple tasks that in Europe are conducted electronically or over the phone require presence in person. And yes, Elliott (12) is right: Vegas is by no means the equivalent of deepest rural England -- try northern Alabama.

  • 23.
  • At 05:03 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Malcolm Fairbairn wrote:

New technological products are driven by, and drive, consumerism and capitalism, and the USA is based on... wait for it... consumerism and capitalism, so yes, they have more gadgets. As they would say, "you do the math". The fact that you "get" it and you are european just means you are a techhie, I have nothing against tecchies.

  • 24.
  • At 05:05 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

So a single waiter joins in a conversation about high-def and HDMI and that means ALL American’s are technical savy? I had a conversation with a 70-year old who had bought the same HD DLP projector that I own, does that mean all UK pensioners ‘get’ technology as well?

  • 25.
  • At 05:09 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

The average "Desperate House Wife" in America (even Northern Virginia where I live, having many acquaintances here) does not know simple math, let alone what a computer can or cannot do. I live here, you cannot on a visit make assumptions about how tech savvy Americans are. They lack sofistication from the dinner table to a normal conversation. Give them some historical fact and they will look at you bemused, even about their own country.

The technology here is used a means to make money. The easily bored American, will work all month and will be bombarded by false messages from these companies that they NEED a new gadget. My husband, an English (and I being a English woman) man, has complained about how Americans on a daily basis, cannot think outside of the box and can only do what they were pre-set to do and he works for the simulation industry!

I don't think they are more tech aware than most Europeans. We just have better ways to spend our days and cell phones compared to the U.K. and banking system here are a joke.
Health care are for the rich and yes, the hospitals here have equipments gallore, but you will only be able to "use it", if you have health insurance. What amazes me, is the fact that America is "so great and has all this thechonology" and still they cannot fight poverty in the own country or win a war.

  • 26.
  • At 05:17 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • johnalexanderstuart wrote:

Dear lord, this a really shoddy bit of reporting. You use Silicon Valley and Las Vegas as your base line for america and deepest rural england as a comparison.

A fairer comparsion would be to the Greater London area, or conversely to a town in a "square" state, Harmony, Wyoming or the like.

I think in general we are very alike in terms of accepting technology and a clearer destinction comes between age groups rather than cultures.

  • 27.
  • At 05:18 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Is the writer drawing a comparison between conversations in Las Vegas and deepest rural England?

If he wanted somewhere rural I would suggest visiting some of the less hip states like Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Advertising in the US is still pushing dial-up Internet access and satellite services, so it seems still a large market for those not so techie - or living where there is no cable/DSL/fibre options.

  • 28.
  • At 05:19 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Hugh wrote:

You've hardly gone in to the entire breadth of "technology". Take for example that Americans are only just beginning to catch up on the mobile "cell" phone revolution not to mention they have an even more laughable use of rail technology than the UK! Perhaps you could have called this article "Americans come to terms much better on pointless technolgies compared to Europeans".

To generalise for a minute: At the back end of the 1990s, the US decided High Definition was the future of TV, Europe decided Widescreen was the answer. So we all went our separate ways. The US has been using early HD technology for a few years, whereas Europe is now only just catching on. In virtually all other areas, however, it is my belief that Europe is streaks ahead of the US in terms of cultural acceptance of technology. The difference is Europeans accept technology as a part of life; the Americans see technology as being able to rule their lives. Sad.

  • 30.
  • At 05:29 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Warren wrote:

I think europeans have a stronger grasp of the implications of technology and make use of it more and have better access to broadband as proved by the BBC. The yanks like quality and excess, that does not equate to a technocracy.

  • 31.
  • At 05:29 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Charlie Thomson wrote:

Tokyo, Japan is the heart of the world's technology

In Japan, America seems like its in the dark ages!

  • 32.
  • At 05:32 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Peter M wrote:

I think it's a silly article without scientific or journalistic merit. The XBox 360 is an American technology, and a childish one at that. I could just as easily claim to have overheard two Swedish janitors marvelling at advances in airbag safety that makes them more comfortable driving with their kids in their Volvos, or to have overheard three Finnish hairdressers comparing notes on GSM and CDMA penetration in the Helsinki subway system. Americans are the most ignorant population in the developed world, by most reckoning. Just look at how they pay twice as much as the rest of the world for "broadband" that's ten times slower than elsewhere, and elect morons for president.

  • 33.
  • At 05:33 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Sandra from Puerto Rico wrote:

I agree that you cannot generalize and even if all americans were so tech savy, there are many more important issues in the World that many Americans and people all over the world don't know about, and should be more concern about, like conflicts in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Middle East, N. Korea, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, what to do everyday to help stop Global Warming, etc....

  • 34.
  • At 05:41 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • J Nelhams wrote:

Ahead? Hands Free mobile anyone?

I went into one Computer store in downtown San Francisco, and he was amazed at my Bluetooth headset....

  • 35.
  • At 05:44 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Billy Edgar wrote:

If someone struck up a detailed conversation on a hi-tech subject in the UK, he or she would be classed as a social nitwit - a person who does not get out much. That sort of conversation is just not socially acceptable over there: thank God.

  • 36.
  • At 05:45 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Emmanuel Nuesiri wrote:

I enjoy your pieces but not this one, why? I don't think there is something to particularly celebrate about the sort of technology you highlight. Its the high end, the apogee, of consumerism. Here the technology consumes the 'consumer', leaving room for neccesities and nothing more. The resources invested into this techno-strata, if invested in people, would better the lives of many less privileged persons everywhere.

  • 37.
  • At 05:47 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Manning wrote:

The ironic thing about this story is the hidden byline - that what Americans "get" in terms of technology is tightly controlled by those who run the marketplace. Americans have a lot of technology because of their excellence in engineering, but technology is generally used more flexibly and efficiently in Asia and countries like Australia and New Zealand. Restrictions on using cell phones for data transfer; the archaic low technology banking system in the US; and the regular buying out and closing down of companies with more advanced products are typical examples of how the US marketplace restricts access to technology.

  • 38.
  • At 05:50 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Did Dave at 17 mean LASERs rather than lasers? It is an acronym after all (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)

  • 39.
  • At 05:51 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Jason Tarris wrote:

Why all the USA bashing? Man. Do you forget that we are about 50x times bigger than the UK?

SO that in itself presents bigger challenges than any of you can admit. Its easy to make a nation, half the size of Texas, a modern nation with great infrastructure.

Thing about the USA is that we typically dont give a damn what others think. And the rest of the world just can't STAND that! But all of you still want to come to our postgraduate institutions because of our quality of education.

Dont' for 1 second forget where all this "innovation" is coming FROM!

BELL laboratories, Microsoft, internet, cell phone, I could go on and on! 70% innovations comes from a bunch of lazy plokes - aka. the US!

  • 40.
  • At 05:51 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

Amazing that people on both sides of this argument through around generalities. How can you sum up how "Tech savvy" a nation is compared to another anymore than you can on how educated a population is toward a particular political event. One person chides Americans for not knowing where Iraq is, what about chiding the British for breaking the middle east into colonies and then breaking them up into nation-states that had little to no bearing on the original state of things? Or the ones who point out that Asia and Europe are more tech savvy on cell (mobile) phones, how is that defined? Is it defined by user base or the types of phones being consumed and if so what makes one phone better than another? GSM is very fine standard, but please show evidence that it is better than the other two competing standards in America, before stating that it is better. Considering GSM is available in America, if it was truly light years better then Americans would be jumping ship and switching companies. This however, is not occurring. I would assume that most people in the industrial world do not know a lost of information about the technology they use everyday. Also, interesting that a country that has more patents and continues to have more applications for patents each year, has been labeled uncreative. The comments about European culture being so much richer and better, etc... is just a bunch of rubbish. How can one honestly say their culture or even someone else's culture is better than another? Worse than that what about the atrocities of World War 2 or the colonization of much of the world? Even today Europe acts for it's own interest. This is not to say that the US does not, because it does. That is part of the human condition that someone thought Europeans know so well. People across the world are motivated by the same things.

  • 41.
  • At 05:51 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Susan Anderson wrote:

When I see an erratic driver I check for a cell phone and mostly there is one glued to the ear. Our addiction to technology means we are not seeing each other much, just a square screen. (But no one is alone!) There is an enormous environmental cost to the ever-increasing need for newer and newer machines, not just emissions but toxic waste. Brave new world, huh?

  • 42.
  • At 05:51 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Fielding wrote:

I live in North America where 2G technology for mobile (cell) phones is all the rage! 2G?!! I was speaking to a friend, back in the UK, regarding mobile phones and he was shocked to here the standard seems to be 2G phones, his is a 3.5G phone.

This is just an example where tech-companies and people in North America are way behind those of Europe and Asia.

The technology is here, in North America, don't get me wrong on that. I use IPTV to watch some TV channels and VOIP to talk to my family around the world. However, my digital cable is light years behind that of Sky and NTL Digital in the UK.

The "Atlantic Pond" divide between Europe and North America is simple.....the answer is money.

Technology in Europe and Asia is developed to improve peoples lives where technology in North America is here to make money and thats it.

  • 43.
  • At 05:53 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Such negative comments about Americans being posted. It almost leads me to believe that the snotty, uptight stereotype of the English people has a lot of truth to it. No wonder the northern irish are willing to resort to acts of terrorism to get away from you people.

I would agree that you can't make an assumption about 300 million people based on one brief conversation.

  • 44.
  • At 05:53 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Claire wrote:

How unfortunate that Prashant would be so denigrating about Americans, being so short-sighted and ignorant him/herself. As a European who has gotten a bachelor's and a master's degree in the United States (at a regular state university), and a master's degree at the best British university in my field (Comparative Literature and German), as well as a year of undergraduate studies in Britain, I assure you the quality of education in Britain is very far behind education in America. The intellectual environment in British universities is virtually non-existent nowadays. I have never seen such lack of intellectual curiosity and motivation in my life as I did in Britain, from both students and professors.

American students may be somewhat behind after their high schools, but they quickly surpass Europeans at university. America is the most powerful player in the world market, technology and otherwise, and I increasingly see either Americans, or American-educated Europeans taking over top level positions in European companies. Personally, I would not be likely to hire someone educated in Europe for my major company.

Every time I go back to Europe I'm reminded of how rude, unmotivated and unambitious many Europeans are. We're losing out to Americans, and after living in America, I know why!

  • 45.
  • At 05:53 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • will wrote:

Yeah.. Japan is way ahead of the USA..and a majority of the western hemisphere gets annoyed if you refer to United States as America.. and by the way; cell phones still suck in the US, having lived in Europe for 4 years, and you should be really careful using those free wireless connections in hotels. They are really easy to steal information from, but what the heck I'm only 17

  • 46.
  • At 05:53 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Probably explains why Americans are a bit slow on environmental issues.
On the HD issue, Americans need this more than Europeans, after all, anything is better than NTSC.

  • 47.
  • At 05:55 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Bob Prowse wrote:

To the thomas goodey comment: Shucks! Leave the guy alone. If he wants to watch some FA Cup footy live over breakfast, whilst working away in the US, then why not? Its a bit of a giggle. I think he's just having some fun, utilising current state-of-play technology in this way. He's paid for the (Sky) service and a way to use it wherever/whenever he chooses... Pretty cool if you ask me.

And who says Xbox 360's are getting HDMI? Is there anything stated anywhere about a retro-fit for early adopters...? Or not at all possible? These are things we want to know...!

  • 48.
  • At 05:55 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Arnold from Loughborough wrote:

We've just returned from a holiday in the USA which included 2 days in Las Vegas - even the guide book said it wasn't the real world.
As for being tech savvy anyone in Las Vegas that thinks that they can win on a gambling machine (bandit) which is computer controlled is clearly not that tech savvy.
While you're there drive 200 miles out of the city and see how tech savvy other places aren't. Better still get in to real life!

  • 49.
  • At 05:56 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Jeff from Peoria, IL, USA wrote:

From my experiences at home in America and abroad in mainland Europe, things are not so different. There is a small group of people, of course, who are experts, and then there's everyone else: sodding idiots when it comes to the latest technology, usually.

I disagree, along with what seems like everyone else, with regard to your comparison of Las Vegas to rural England. Any non-major city in the South of the US would be a much, much better comparison.

As a whole, I really don't see much of a difference in the approach to technology in either region of the world.

  • 50.
  • At 05:56 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Evelyn wrote:

Well the concensus seems to be this gentleman is certainly up on his technology but his geographical and social comparison software needs just a little more work.

  • 51.
  • At 05:57 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Steven wrote:

I don't know why I continue to go to BBC's website...It's the exact same crap that I've been reading for 10 years. Americans this...American's that...

Here's the deal...Europeans lack in areas that their counterparts across the ocean make up for and vice versa. We are not perfect over here in the states, and nor are you in Europe (I could easily rip on ya but not going to go to that level). Technology is a gift which American's cherish. Deal with it.

P.S. Whoever said you could get 1080p on component cables should be drug tested.

  • 52.
  • At 05:58 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

It's amusing and sad at the same time that your posting has become such a great launching pad for Anti-American comments. Americans are backwards luddites and gadget obsessed geeks, whichever suits the insult of the moment. Americans are vapid, candy-coated shells incessantly gabbing on the phone whilst that very infrastructure rots and no one can figure out how to 'text' a message to another. Americans are all ignorant of science and technology, yet host many universities that practically invented (not exclusively though) the very technology we use today. This smugness infests every BBC talk back and frankly, it's no wonder why Americans shy away from such news sources.

That being said, the poster who mentioned technology as accomplishing a task is correct. Americans will use whatever they feel helps them do what *they* want to do. Of course this is going to be different from European or Asian tastes. Realise this, as well as the political and commercial landscape and it's relatively easy to figure out why certain technologies pervade particular countries.

  • 53.
  • At 05:59 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Smith wrote:

Sorry, but you're wrong about Americans and technology. Simply look at their mobile phone network - mostly still on pre-2G quality levels. It's a joke. Scandinavia and Korea are the true technophiles. The UK is miles behind them but years ahead of the states.

  • 54.
  • At 05:59 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

Such negative comments about Americans being posted. It almost leads me to believe that the snotty, uptight stereotype of the English people has a lot of truth to it. No wonder the northern irish are willing to resort to acts of terrorism to get away from you people.

I would agree that you can't make an assumption about 300 million people based on one brief conversation.

  • 55.
  • At 06:01 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Brent wrote:

"What a shame that the Americans don't "get" the fact that they can't win a war, even after being shown the door in Vietnam/Iraq:The Prequel.
They don't "get" the fact that they have no class or style like Europeans either.
I suppose they have to "get" something don't they? What a boorish race of arrogant fools!"

"What a shame that British "blokes" don't "get" the fact that Ecstacy is bad for your brain, techno music sucks, having unprotected "shags" with a new partner every night, not brushing your teeth for weeks on end, and getting pissdrunk at "football" matches and pounding in the heads of the opponents' fans isn't a healthy way to live your life.

You see, we can make unfair generalizations based on sterotypes about your country as well. And most of my fellow countrymen, idiotic as they were in supporting this war, now understand that they were lied to and that the war is not winnable. Thinking that you are superior because you happened to be born on a certain island is just as idiotic as thinking you are better for having been born in America. So please don't be a nincompoop, because there are 300 million of us and you will have to deal with us whether you like it or not.

Brent Carney,
Flagstaff, Arizona,

  • 56.
  • At 06:01 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Not exactly on topic, but then again neither was tim (26) to whom I am replying. It always amuses me how many Europeans express their dislike of "boorish" and "arrogant" Americans by acting boorish and arrogant themselves. Such misinformed, ignorant generalizations of 300 million people prove nothing more than the fact that the poster himself is lacking any class or style.

-A classless, boorish, arrogant fool.

  • 57.
  • At 06:03 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

Michelle --

Um, I think you mean "SOPHISTICATION".

--An uneducated, foolish Yank

  • 58.
  • At 06:04 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Malc wrote:

I have to say the Reporter did set himself up for this - a single waiter is not really a representative sample. It's also a shame to see the Yanks haters crawl out their little boxes on the basis of what a Britsh report has said. I was looking forward to Tommorrow's World returning, but if this is the stand of reporting we are going to get, it's a bit a of let down - but then again, I think the BBC is busy feeding on the current "I'm a journo - no qualifications required" mentality that seems to pervades the media at the minute.

I think the lady who posted 25 should really consider why she has chosen to live in such a country if she dislikes it that much.

It seems that the Americans, even though receiving technology earlier than us here in England are somewhat behind in their use of it. The simplest comparison is the stark difference is websites from the US and UK. The US relies and promotes advertisments much heavier than any other country in the world. Even with their use of offline technology, the Americans seem slow to adopt new technologies.

A quick look at the 'cell' phones the Americans are using suggests that they're less likely to go for something new fangled than us over here. Most of my friends in the US have phones that have very poor cameras, lack bluetooth, and aren't concerned at all with getting on the web from their phone - whereas over here, we're about to start watching TV on it!

  • 60.
  • At 06:07 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Martin from Orlando wrote:

My only observation from the above is that it seems all topics concerning anything American quickly turn into a venue to insult us. For those of you from the UK that live here please buy a one way ticket back to the uK if living here is so painful to you. There are many others from the UK only too eager to meve here.

  • 61.
  • At 06:09 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • George Greenwood wrote:

Who cares anyway if a waiter is savvy on a narrow technolgy spectrum?

We all use technology to our capacity and conceived needs. Mine are different from the waiter and everyone else and I'm comfortable with that. So read the ads and hear the hype but make up yur own mind

  • 62.
  • At 06:10 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Þórgnýr wrote:

I really don't think that commontype american gamer knows anything practical about tomorrow's technology. And my five cents is that the general expectations are out of focus with reality.

Simple, yet reliable solutions will always be on top with the consumer at the end of the day.

  • 63.
  • At 06:14 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • john wrote:

well, what a carry on?

I thought that civilisations were supposed to be judged by their artistic achievments, not their technological achievements.

Im not sure where that leaves us now?

has anyone got a clue?

  • 64.
  • At 06:16 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • T.Whitchurch wrote:

"If someone struck up a detailed conversation on a hi-tech subject in the UK, he or she would be classed as a social nitwit - a person who does not get out much. That sort of conversation is just not socially acceptable over there: thank God."

Why is it different to any other topic of conversation, simply because it is new and different? I think that's an absurd comment.

  • 65.
  • At 06:17 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • e wrote:

send this to kathryn

  • 66.
  • At 06:17 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Everett from Texas, of all places wrote:

Perhaps what's most interesting about this article is not its content, but its social and cultural ramifications--right here. I'm an American, and quite savy with technology, but I would not consider myself the typical American. The article portrays a ridiculous stereotype. However, it's most interesting that those who complained of this false stereotype immediately prescribed what it is that they are certain must be the true American stereotype. Since when did we still refer to a group of people living under a nation as a race? That, tim (30) is arrogance.

With that said, it is really sad how backward a lot of American infrastructure is. P.S. Could everyone posting from abroad list all fifty states? If so, bravo.

  • 67.
  • At 06:18 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Berni Smith wrote:

I live in Burnam-on-Crouch and don't know what you are all talking about...

  • 68.
  • At 06:19 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Alan Robertson wrote:

Hehe - glad to hear you've got a Slingbox too, aren't they just brilliant?!

With regards America and technology - the one thing I have found them not to 'get' as much is mobile phones. From the forums that I've read many of them seem quite jealous of Europe and the variety of models on offer here. Where they do seem to have a better deal is on unlimited data plans, although T-Mobile are at least going some way to redressing that balance with their Web'n'Walk plan.

  • 69.
  • At 06:20 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew, Expat Miami wrote:

I guess Mr Taylor is just visting and is purposely talking to peple at the CES show in Vegas so as usual the BBC are talking from a very limited perspective again! Many people in the US do have greater access to electronics and other technology as its cheaper - sometime more than half of what the same stuff costs in the UK and sometimes it is launched here first. BUT does everyone have access and use it - hell no! Does everyone understand it - just look at the Jessica Simpson ad for HDTV and there's your answer! I would say Japan is the place where people have greater access and understand what is going on - I have an old Japanese cell phone we used 3 years ago and as far as I can see it is still streets ahead of anything I can get here BUT due to a lack on international standards for cell phones it doesn't work here!

  • 70.
  • At 06:21 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Wayne McDonough wrote:

A friend from Idaho visited me half a decade ago, how smug I was with my new small tri-band mobile phone and 512meg broadband connection, while all he had back home was a 56k modem and huge brick of a 'cell' on offer. Fast forward and he now has a phone not released here yet and a 100meg connection into his home. At what point did we get left behind?

  • 71.
  • At 06:22 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

As you have a good Wi-Fi connection in the motel, you could always use one of the new mobile VoIP services like Truphone or Jajah to call your missus and ask her to point the IR in the right direction again - without being caned for enormous roaming charges by your mobile operator. Ain't even old-fashioned technology - phones! - great?

  • 72.
  • At 06:23 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • dominik wrote:

I know that other countries, such as japan have blown many years past us here in america, their phones, televisions, and computers do things that we'll perhaps never see here. Their internet connection speeds are a 100 times faster than us and for less $$. i don't think that america "gets" technology. they have a thirst for the latest, newest gadgets, but we still suffer with dropped calls, poor cell phone reception, crashing computer systems, slow internet, some areas still don't have broadband!

  • 73.
  • At 06:25 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Charles Lebville wrote:

I find many of the comments here particularly from the Europeans (British probably) regarding the US either partronizing or simply filled with the same old cliche stereotypes or both. They either claim that the US is advanced but culturally vacant or they are not advanced and still culturally vacant. I have lived in Germany for two years and spent much time in other areas of Europe including England and the Netherlands and I can trully say that Europeans are much more afraid of technology than the US where it is so much more widely accepted. This is not a brag, just an observation. Just an example, whenever I travel in Europe I always have to wonder whether I'm going to get broadband. At most business hotels they are available but very expensive ($10/hour or so) while in the US, in most hotels they are either free or are about $10/day. You can also find several more wifi hotspots in the US where they are free. As for those who claimed they've lived in the US and still provide some odious observation about life in the US, I have had several English and other Europeans postdoctoral fellows work for me and they are frankly embarrased when they here many of these negative comments from Europeans because after living here in the US for a couple of years they now many of them are note true. As for culture, don't forget that the music that you are so proud of in England were all influenced by American musicians (think Elvis, Muddy Waters, Dylan, etc.). And a recent book by a French intellect F. Martel, who compares French spending in arts and culture with the US shows that the US spends and devotes much more of it resources to the arts and the culture than the French when you combine all avenues for cultural support.

  • 74.
  • At 06:28 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • patrick keehn wrote:

There's a lot of chest beating about the wonderful European cell phone technology. But research has consistently shown that this technology is not good for the brain. Have you seen the video of the egg cooking between two cell phones? Might as well just stick your head in a microwave and call it a day.

  • 75.
  • At 06:28 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • jason wrote:

I can see how an encounter with an average citizen who is so familiar with technology would give the impression that the subject pervades American culture. Perhaps we are 'into' tech. more than some others. 'Though I feel as distanced from this restaurant techie as I do from the "boorish...arrogant" Americans described by some readers. Not only are there techies working in our restaurants and coffeeshops, there are MA's and occasional Ph.D's who read the same, or more esoteric stuff than you. And a note on the "sofistication"(sic) of Americans. That's right--we're not sophisticated, don't pretend to be, and don't have 'class'. We're not heirarchical, and we smile at you in the street. It's a simpler, earthy, good-hearted mentality for the most part. If you want style, and indeed real arrogance, stay in Europe.

  • 76.
  • At 06:29 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • DG wrote:

I think Americans are very into the entertainment-centered technology. They are a step ahead from Europe is all its forms. In Europe cell phone system is way ahead though, and I also believe every-day small technology has infiltrated life more over there. It was interesting to see the prices in a supermarket in Paris shown digitally (it should makes price-changing so easy!), or waiters using wireless handheld pda’s where they print instantly your check. The sad thing here is that you go to a coffee place and most people are on a laptop (like me now!)… social interaction is down to zero! I miss the human interaction in cafes in Europe….

PS. Las Vegas in NOT like rural England!! LV is a very modern city…

  • 77.
  • At 06:29 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Craig Duncan wrote:

I agree with one of the previous posters – video gaming is big here in the US and people pay a lot of money playing it. In many other respects, the US is way behind Europe. As an electronics engineer with 20 years in the semiconductor industry I was shocked at the antiquated standard of much of the technology infrastructure here. Non-standard cell networks, poor reception and coverage, frequent dropped calls, ancient land-line technologies and very poor DSL coverage.

Much of this is because none of the companies involved in any of this wants to invest in improving the infrastructure. So instead, only the minimum is done to ‘keep the boat afloat’ in order to maximise profits. But the shocking thing is the cost. Prior to coming to the US, I lived in the former East Germany for 7 years (a country, you may remember, that languished under the yoke of communism until 1990 and had almost no technological investment until that time). When I compare costs and services here and in Germany, it is truly shocking. An inferior service costs so much more.

My phone line in the US (no DSL available) costs around $40 per month. In Germany it cost 10 euros. My cellphone costs $80/month (I had to buy the phone separately and the phone technology is not as advanced generally as in Europe). I paid 10 euros/month in Germany - The very latest camera phone with mp3 player and radio cost 1 euro. Added to that is absolutely abysmal coverage. You consistently experience dropped connections here, or no service at all. Not once in Germany did I ever experience this (I always thought it was a rather pathetic plot device when characters in US movies could never get a signal. No – it’s true!).

I have to go cable for high speed internet in the US, which cost around $60/month (incidentally, although the cable company advertise “up to” 6mbs, I actually get 700kbs – which compared to 2mbs with my old, slow East German DSL connection, which cost 20 euros/month).

On top of all of this is the constant bombardment of ads. I pay over $100/month for a cable TV service (in Germany I paid 30 euros). A typical channel will have 7 minutes of programming with 5 minutes of scheduled ads. But there are ads everywhere! Ads that pop up when you start a movie (which cost an additional $5-$15), there are ads in the freebies, there are even ads that pop up on the TV listings page! Coming from Europe, when I’m paying $100/month for a TV service, I don’t expect any ads. If there are ads, it should be free! Compare the licence fee for the ad-free BBC with the $100/month you pay here for a service that is over 40% ads! And then they have the nerve to charge me extra if they actually put anything new/good on!
Banking is little better. In Germany I could use the equivalent of my Switch card to pay for goods in stores, get cash from ATMs and also pay bills online (I didn’t have to use a credit card), which were all performed electronically. So what, you might say? Well – and I didn’t believe this until I saw it – while some transactions with companies which have a special agreement with your bank are performed electronically, for the most part when you pay a bill online through your bank, the bank then prints a paper cheque and posts it to the payee by post. That’s US online banking! To transfer money back to Germany I have to physically go into the bank and fill out a paper form which is about 1.5 A4 pages long. In East Germany I could send money to the US online in about 30 seconds.

So, no. The US isn’t a technological leader. And we’re paying through the nose for it!

  • 78.
  • At 06:30 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen Jenkins wrote:

Living in both NYC and London (generally two or three weeks about), I can assure you that your observation is overly optimistic. Aside from HDTV and gaming, the US generally trails Europe and the Far East in consumer electronics take-up. They have for decades and I see nothing in my daily life suggesting any change. It is most obvious in handheld technology (cells, PDAs, etc), but spreads across the board. I can remember marvelling at how slow the cell phone take-up was in America in the 1990s and nothing has changed in the intervening decade.

  • 79.
  • At 06:35 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Greg Hoover wrote:

Richard, as usual, you are talking rubbish.
USA behind Europe? Ever been to Finland?

  • 80.
  • At 06:37 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Larry Sciple wrote:

OK, so the US has a cultural approach to technology that is different. I had an almost identical conversation with my daughter that the author had with the waiter. But here I am in Tennessee and my broadband card will only grudgingly send e-mail, I have never had anything reach the recipient in the same day. And so far I am 0 for 2 in finding a Starbucks with WiFi. In my exsperience I could have done better in the Czech Republic, at least in biger towns.

  • 81.
  • At 06:41 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I really do not have much to say on technology and how the USA's take on it is compared to Europe or Asia since I only came on here to see what kinds of products we are supposedly ahead of the world at. I only wanted to point out how many people on this board seem to subscribe to "The Idiot's Guide to Insulting Americans". Except for a few posts, all insults and "opinions" are the kinds of one-liners I have come to expect after visiting such websites as this one and Also, just to make myself not seem like the "ugly, ignorant American", WAR IN IRAQ/GLOBAL WARMING

  • 82.
  • At 06:42 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • paul wrote:

To be honest I don't agree. I went home from London to Wales for Christmas and had a conversation with my old man about much the same stuff. A 60 odd year old bloke in the valleys knew a damn site more that I'd given him credit for. With the same token, Vegas sure ain't Pacifc Heights, but it is home to CES, NAB and a host of other massive technology shows. Go down to the backwater of the midwest and see if they're using cell phones that don't have LED read out yet.

  • 83.
  • At 06:45 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Bill Shea wrote:

(1) Las Vegas rural? Really? Go to rural Oklahoma or northern Maine and see what you get there. (2) Your waiter was probably a Computer Science major at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. You seem naive -- that makes you a real techie!

  • 84.
  • At 06:46 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Rose Woodhall wrote:

Clearly this discussion is a guy thing but having just come back from nine months in the US, I can say that their domestic technology (i.e. washing machines, tumble driers, air con etc) is truly, truly lousy. Sooooooo outdated and downright inconvenient. It's like stuff we had here in the UK in the 60s. But, hey, I suppose a game console and mobile will affect a guy's life more....????! Before I was in the US I was in Turkey for two years - and their domestic stuff is great! You know I spend more time per day on that stuff than with a games console, and so does my son when I am not here. It might be more important to life and the economy...

  • 85.
  • At 06:46 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Alexander Rimsky wrote:

All these people talking about technology and feelings... They haven't even read Alexander Rimsky's book "An Ordinary Black Cat" (!!!) When it is published, read it and then pass judgements.

  • 86.
  • At 06:47 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Chris from Canada wrote:

In terms of mobile and computer use North America has all it needs to match the personal tech adoption of European and Asian megacities but disservices itself in the way companies overzealously push bunled or 'value added' services, and trying to overengineer the market, for which standards hype and practically untenable licensing schemes are key tools. If you produce too many incompatible devices, often by design, many never end up selling or get sold at a loss years later in bargain basement markets. For some equipment, it becomes nearly impossible to buy the raw goods and only the goods without having to go through resellers which apply a markup for dubious added value you get from which the product may not even be separately sold. And on top of it comsumers get denied the ability to buy it from who they please, ship it themselves, in a time where it is so easy to do so through the modern online checkout, because of import duties and regional controls which render void any benefit of self-service and obscure what the goods actually cost on the open market. "Free" trade in such volatile and profitable markets apparently does not extend to consumers, to which many producers would also greatly benefit from direct international sales, geared to actual consumer demand, instead of dancing to the demands of channel distributors with inflated ideas of actual market potential, scraping their own margins bare to supply the marketing demand. Instead we pay for this overhead at the counter whenever our companies go to battle over control of the next big thing.

  • 87.
  • At 06:51 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Tyler wrote:

Yet again I discover an otherwise sovereign topic being bombarded with the same ragged claim: the United States is less culturally aware than European nations.

Frankly, the overgeneralization in and of itself is indicative of a lack of cultural understanding of the US on the part of Europeans. We have our own set of values, perspectives, artforms, and methods of processing new information. At the core, the European claim of culturally ignorant Americans simply suggests that we are less intellectually capable and sophisticated because we are not part of YOUR culture and don't press importance on the same areas of knowledge.

As for our technology awareness, contemplate for a moment how many inventions were spawned from the creative minds of Americans. Without the presence of this force, you could not be on the internet at this very moment. If you are merely wondering how common advanced knowledge of computer devices is in America, consider this: at six years old I was operating programs with adepthood, at ten I was setting up the cable system in my house, and last night I hacked into the core software of my cell phone for the sole reason that it was the most entertaining available option. This, coming from a seventeen year old child from the southernmost part of the poorest state in our Union... and I'm not the only one.

Ergo, if you want to talk about Victorian era fan motions or the Diary of Samuel Pepys, maybe an average American might be a little short on the details. Yet if you want to know how to use a PDA beyond what the manual suggests, break into a website, or work a spreadsheet... save your time and ask a fifteen year old American.

  • 88.
  • At 06:52 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Cherryl wrote:

Americans, Europeans, British, Asians, we are all different. East Coast Americans are different than West Coast Americans as are southerns and mid-west types. The reason we travel is hopefully to encounter and enjoy the differences. Technology is more than cell phones - China is almost all mobile because they missed the "hard-wire" years. Technology is advancing rapidly everywhere, different areas pick up on and use various devices per their own needs. I wouldn't trade an average Eurpopean kitchen for an average American - the US wins that one every day, but there are other areas - as noted repeatedly such as cell phones that the US is behind. Our cultures are all different, let us enjoy our own and respect each others. And yes there is more to life than technology, but hey it sure does make the everyday living of it easier.

  • 89.
  • At 06:55 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

Americans, in general, are a pragmatic people.

To me, this is something akin to Europe sniffing at America for driving cars with automatic transmissions (Unlike Europeans, we don't drive for the "experience" of driving; for us, a car is simply a means of getting from Point A to Point B ... Period.)

It's all very well and good to learn about the inner workings of one's cell phone or DVD player ... but what do you DO with said knowledge? Having an intimate knowledge of CDMA or DLP is not going to baby-sit the kids or cook dinner any faster.

As far as the average American is concerned, this is something left to the nerds ... the tech-heads who live in a universe of overclocked CPUs and hacked XBoxes.

  • 90.
  • At 06:55 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • vlad wrote:

In reply comment #40:
"Considering GSM is available in America, if it was truly light years better then Americans would be jumping ship and switching companies. This is not happening."

Theoretically, you should be correct. In practice, you are naive. I work for a big American company. We sell a lot of products. The majority are of inferior quality to our Asian competitors. America is a bigger market for us, whereas our Asian competitors love Europe. Why? Because when we tell Americans that our products rock, Americans believe us. Europeans investigate, consider, and don't buy from us.

As a generality, Americans swallow whatever hype is fed to them. Europeans, either because of their hesitancy or their cynicism, generally only take the best on offer.

There's nothing wrong with following the herd; just remember that sheep are not famous for their rational decision-making.

  • 91.
  • At 06:55 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • K J NORMAN wrote:

I would just like to add my comment, as an arrogant and technologically ignorant, lazy and backward-looking European. Don't ever try using a phone box to call a mobile phone "interstate" in the technological paradise.... you'd be better off buying a carrier-pigeon !

  • 92.
  • At 06:57 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • James Lovette-Black wrote:

Generally, Americans have a superficial appreciation of information technologies, as these devices have propagated throughout our country. In the larger urban areas, probably percolating as far into them as the 2nd- and 3rd-tier urban centers, the majority of Americans have a basic understanding of computer and information technologies. However, our technological systems - other than the Internet - are unevenly implemented and often haltingly interoperable, which has created a substantial lag in widespread practical use and understanding. Video gaming is probably the most understood, because of its immense popularity. Next, would be digital video recorders, for the same reason. Finally, Internet technologies and devices are rapidly rising in use because of numerous public-private initiatives to provide either free or very low-cost access to most major urban areas. Most San Franciscans, for instance, consider Internet access similarly to telephone access, that it is a required technology and must be treated as a utility service. For example, San Francisco just signed a deal to provide free WiFi to the entire city via a deal with Earthlink and Google. This project will provide free Internet access for the 30% of San Franciscans who do not have it and will also have a faster access service for a small monthly fee. In the USA, the drivers for access to such services are the same as elsewhere: commerce, entertainment, education, and information/data access.

Technological awareness is definitely based on where you live in the USA, with the East and West Coasts, urban areas, and towns and cities with either universities or colleges ranking higher in use and knowledge.

As we are a large country with many different cultures, differences in regional economies, and significant differences in education and computer literacy, it is inherently erroneous to judge us by a single experience in one urban area.

  • 93.
  • At 07:00 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • martin kelly wrote:

Comparing any US conurbation with rural England is unfair. visiting the midwest 10 years ago, I found cousins and aunties alike woefully behind the times in their technological savvy. I expect their rural environment to still be similarly behind, as the Telco's are probably not bothered about supplying broadband to farmers and cowboys.

  • 94.
  • At 07:03 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • John from France wrote:

As a Brit living in France and working across the USA, in general it's true to say that the Americans are slightly ahead of the game with the latest tecnology and how to make the most it.

I even have a mobile with all the latest gadgets with one overwhelming facter you dont get in Europe, its cheap. I havent tried calling Houstons equivalent in rural England but when I when I get the price plan Ill let you all know.

It has to be remembered that the Americans did actually invent most of the building blocks of todays technology that we Brits claim to be superior in. Back in France we are famous for having a 'know all attitude' whom cannot stand critism which appears to be the case judging by the preceeding comments.

  • 95.
  • At 07:08 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • John Wood wrote:

Why are Europeans so intimidated by anything American? Almost all the posts on this board reveal a streak of defensiveness. Why does America have such an effect on your psyche? peace

  • 96.
  • At 07:12 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • vlad wrote:

Claire at comment 44:
you have a degree in comparative literature (sorry, and German too) and you think you'll be running a major company one day? LOL. Who says too much literature inhibits understanding of the real world?

Oh, and by the way, there is no such word as "gotten" in the English language. American yes, English no. But then you've clearly disowned your mother country and its culture, so why not its language too? Out of interest, what are you doing on a BBC website? Shouldn't you be on a more cultured and intellectual news site... Fox News, maybe?! :-D

From a rude, unmotivated, unambitious European who works for an American company which can only successfully sell its inferior-quality technological products to "tech-savvy" Americans.

  • 97.
  • At 07:19 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • mikey wrote:

Generalizations are evil. "Americans are technologically savvy." –becomes- "Americans are too stupid to comprehend anything else." Then it's "Look at the pompous Brit with bad teeth." -and I could go on and on. Americans and Brits maintain very similar cultures, so I don't understand the insults. I don't understand why we are so quick to insult in the first place. We can't afford to disagree over trivial issues such as cell phone networks. Who the hell cares? There is more important work to be done in this world.

With Love from New York...


  • 98.
  • At 07:21 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • oliver wrote:

can't anyone just talk about numbers?

how many users of this and that technology here and there?
what's the share of professional use?

sure here in Europe companies have a more "social" sense of technology deployment (where are my subsides...:)
but the result is that more "people" get to experience the same tools on a rather equal level.
this levels out tech issues, and gets us back to the relationships.

please do not make me choose between an HistoryNerd or a ComputerNerd for tomorrow's dinner. I'll go for a "normal" bloke with saucy jokes better !

Technology takes you where you want,as long as you know when to drop it !

  • 99.
  • At 07:24 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • vlad wrote:

Quite surprised the Beeb allowed comment 43 from the oh-so-brave person who hid his/her name to be aired:
"No wonder the northern irish are willing to resort to acts of terrorism to get away from you people."

Leaving aside the issue of how much of their funding comes from the States, I'd like to point out that I have lost family members due to terrorist attacks in the UK because the Irish are so understandably keen to get away from the "snotty, uptight" people in this country.
If you think that's acceptable, I'm sure you accepted without complaint incidents at US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, a ship called the USS Cole, at the World Trade Centre, etc. etc. etc. Strange how much hatred there is directed towards Americans, eh?

What goes around, comes around, as they say.

  • 100.
  • At 07:33 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

If the world were to be dominated by tech-savvy early adopters, we would all be spending so much time and money replacing our cell-phones, computers & software, game boxes, cameras, broadband connection technology, media players and storage systems to maintain that vital connectivity and escape obsolescence that there would be no more problems associated with such spurious issues as education, war, or disease. As for tech-savvy waiters/waitresses, that would be a given: they would be robots.

  • 101.
  • At 07:34 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • vlad wrote:

Jason at 39:
"It's easy to make a nation, half the size of Texas, a modern nation with a great infrastructure."

Durr, silly me, of course it is. A nation half the size of Texas would obviously have the same natural and man-made resources as a country the size of America, wouldn't it?

It's interesting that you take pride in the fact that Americans typically don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks. Strange you felt the need to mention it, actually. Are you not a typical American, then?
Where I come from, ignoring others' perceptions of yourself is considered ignorant, arrogant, insensitive, insular, and very unappealing. For you, it's a source of pride.

By the way, I have no wish to attend one of your postgraduate institutes. The education may indeed be top-notch, but I've spent enough time in America to know that I can't STAND being surrounded by people who take pride in 'typically' not giving a damn what other people think.

Oh, and please do remind me how many people in your great nation can actually afford to go to one of these great postgraduate centres? Last time I was invited to one I couldn't help noticing a distinct lack of coloured students there.

  • 102.
  • At 07:41 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

If the world were to be dominated by tech-savvy early adopters, we would all be spending so much time and money replacing our cell-phones, computers & software, game boxes, cameras, broadband connection technology, media players and storage systems to maintain that vital connectivity and escape obsolescence that there would be no more problems associated with such spurious issues as education, war, or disease. As for tech-savvy waiters/waitresses, that would be a given: they would be robots.

  • 103.
  • At 07:48 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Jerry Lebow wrote:

To #77, Craig Duncan:
Where do you live? Perhaps in the mountains of Wyoming? The prices you quote are double or perhaps triple of what most of us in large American cities pay. Where I live, in Phoenix, Arizona, I get DSL at "blinding speed, over 200 channels of HDTV (1080i), unlimited long distance telephone service and impeccably good service. The last time I had a dropped call on my mobile was probably 1999! Get off your high horse and stop this ridiculous "America bashing!"

  • 104.
  • At 07:54 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Michelle Waterman wrote:

To 57: You can pick on small typo, but you cannot pick on the fact that even though it is 300 million of you and yes, it is a huge country, you guys do think of yourselves above every other race on earth. You are not the best in country-my husband is here because your people cannot do his job and we were invited to come to live here-and we were both educated in England and can see that as long as you can “buy” your way into an American University, you may be able to get a decent education. Although, as I live here and can say that, most of you think you were given God's permission to bomb Iraq and the point I was trying to make was that even with all the technology, you guys cannot win a war and fight poverty in your own country. Snobbish? Think again, and let’s try to figure out why there are so many anti-American comments.

  • 105.
  • At 08:13 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • john wrote:

Funny how everyone puts down America yet most of the world would like nothing better than to be here .....

(speaking as an Englishman who's lived in the US since 1983)

can you say "sour grapes"?

  • 106.
  • At 08:14 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Harriet wrote:

I find it a shame that a simple, although perhaps misinformed, report has turned into such a slanging match between two continents. I really don't see why wars should be brought into this discussion, they are of little relevence.

Back to the topic at hand. Obviously there are differences in the technology available in Europe and the USA simply because we have different uses; our reasons for consuming the gadgets we buy are different, after all our cultures are, no doubt, worlds apart. My father works in IT and therfore comes across the latest technology on a regular basis so that the company he works for is kept up-to-date all the time. I have grown up in a household where gadgets and the latest technology are readily available. I first saw a handheld computer about seven years ago (if I remember correctly), yet even now I talk to my friends about my iPac and they still have no idea what I'm talking about.

While Europe concerns itself with technology to make communication and business easier (through hi-tech mobile phones, broadband, iPac) America concerns itself with concerns itself with technology to entertain itself; hence the gaming technology that is advanced compared to Europe and HDTV that has been around much longer than it has in Europe.

No doubt it will remain like this until Europe becomes interested in gaming and entertainment products and the USA interests itself in re-vamping it's communications industry. How will the tables turn then I wonder?

As for Asia, it's probably still laughing at our 4-8MB broadband while they whizz through the internet on 32MB... They probably still chuckle at us afterwards when they go and play on games consoles that will only be released here in Europe and in the USA in two or three years time. It rather puts things into perspective, don't you think?

  • 107.
  • At 08:14 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Michelle Waterman wrote:

75. At 06:28 PM on 06 Jan 2007, jason wrote:
I can see how an encounter with an average citizen who is so familiar with technology would give the impression that the subject pervades American culture. Perhaps we are 'into' tech. more than some others. 'Though I feel as distanced from this restaurant techie as I do from the "boorish...arrogant" Americans described by some readers. Not only are there techies working in our restaurants and coffeeshops, there are MA's and occasional Ph.D's who read the same, or more esoteric stuff than you. And a note on the "sofistication"(sic) of Americans. That's right--we're not sophisticated, don't pretend to be, and don't have 'class'. "

Well, Jason this is total BS at best, HOW ABOUT HOW YOU TREAT THE AFRICAN_AMERICANS???, SEE SPIKE LEE documentary and then let's see if you guys aren't class oriented, that is nonsense and laughable!!!

We're not heirarchical, and we smile at you in the street. It's a simpler, earthy, good-hearted mentality for the most part.


If you want style, and indeed real arrogance, stay in Europe.

AGAIN, WATCH SPIKE LEE'S documentary and let's see how the average white AMERICAN see's themselves compared to the Hispanics, etc. By the way, you are the only nation that gives someone a title: African-American, Asian-Americam, this is the worst sort of discrimination. As Oprah Winfrey once said: "I'm an American, not African-American". THINK AGAIN, just because someone has a typo, it doesn't mean anything, but you obviously cannot go past that...

Again, I will say if you can buy education, I know parents which are pushing their kids to desperation, they want them enrolled in every single sport or do "charity work" in order to show well on their college application. You will probably be very successful here, but what about those who cannot afford??

  • 108.
  • At 08:25 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Michelle Waterman wrote:

To Mikey,

Good point, we should focus on good things too....

  • 109.
  • At 08:44 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Michelle Waterman wrote:

Forgot to put the documentary name: When the levees broke: A requiem in four acts by Spiky Lee, a fantastic eye opener and if you think Americans aren't class oriented, see the documentary.

  • 110.
  • At 10:25 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Margarita wrote:

I am bemused, to put it mildly! I assumed this blog to be a techblog, until I finished reading today's comments! Rather it appears to be a blog used to air anti-American sentiments of all kinds.... Extraordinary! I am an American businesswoman working in Guatemala and I assure you that Americans and even Guatemalans are more sophisticated in hitech than 90% of "ordinary" Europeans. Try to get German businessmen, for example, to answer emails out of office..for that matter, to read them onlne without a secretary printing them out. I do business via Skype with Americans, Chinese, Brazilians, Israelis and Irish...NEVER with Germans, French and only very few Brits. In fact, the Germans and French are hopeless, unless they are in tech fields. So please, let's stick to tech on tech blogs and politics on political blogs...and if you just want to be nasty for its own sake, there must be a "nasty" blog that'd be happy to have you! Hey, we "get" a lot more than you arrogant, boorish Europeans~!

  • 111.
  • At 11:13 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Berni Smith wrote:

Oh, dear.

Clearly, none of you have heard of Burnam-on-Crouch.

It's a nice place but you need some woolies on at this time of year, especially if you are as old as me. Come over in the summer and listen to the sea. It helps.

  • 112.
  • At 10:05 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • brian smith wrote:

"(Unlike Europeans...for us, a car is simply a means of getting from Point A to Point B ... Period.)"

And an SUV would be what?
I know this blog isn't about cars (yet) but.... this is the funniest thing I've seen this admitedly rather early morning!

ps - Yes, let's be fair: about half of all Americans are lovely, sensitive, fair-minded, cultured, thoughtful people. It's the others... Quite a lot like Britain, less true of the rest of Europe I'd say, living in France and Germany, where the "goodies" would be more like 75%. Ha! I win!

  • 113.
  • At 01:24 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Cresswell wrote:

As a Brit, I would remind my countrymen, that before they go implying that all Americans are stupid and lacking any technological or cultural awareness, that you only need to look in on any UK town on a Friday night at our fine collection of hoodie drunks and Catherine Tate soundalikes to realise we have nothing to gloat about.

On a more practical note, those in the US who are even remotely interested in technology, find it much more accessible. With Frys, Circuit City, or Best Buys available to all, much greater array of technology coverage in the media and even advertising, it is much simpler for them to learn. Compare that to a middle age couple being mis-sold an 'HDTV Ready' LCD in Currys by a salesman who doesnt even understand it himself.

In the UK there is a big divide between early adopters and mainstream purchasers, whereas in the US, once you can buy it in Wal-Mart, everyone wants one.

  • 114.
  • At 04:16 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Brown wrote:

IF web technology is supposed to help create a unified global community, enable communication between people around the world and facilitate free and open discussion, it seems ironic that a post about geek language has provoked a debate mired in prejudice and narrow minded provincialism. That anti-Americanism has reared its head here does not, sadly, suprise me. As an Englishmen living in the US, this is something I have become acutely aware of, especially in the several message boards and web communities that I regularly participate in. Arguing over who has more technological prowess seems to be a step backwards from what the early web pioneers hoped to achieve.

  • 115.
  • At 08:46 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Isha Reddy wrote:

Im glad this is definitely the 'era' to be around. I cant imagine life without computers. I cant imagine life without internet. I dont know what suffocating isolated mess of a life is like.. without my 'Vodem' screening in to amusing blog writers like yourself!!

  • 116.
  • At 07:47 AM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Pfaff wrote:

Las Vegas is the only city in the U.S. - outside of San Francisco - in which your cab driver is likely to be a videogame developer and a digital photography expert. Technology enthusiasts abound here, and the major tech shows (CES and NAB predominantly) have a great deal to do with this. Las Vegans built a city in the desert; conquering consumer electronics technology seems secondary by comparison.

  • 117.
  • At 10:12 AM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • RICHARD wrote:

the problem is good old england is finding some one to help you find solutions your needs - loads of people know what they want in their homes in terms of interconnectivity etc but they can not find anyone willing or able to help them with solutions who is able to speak english rathet than techno babble

  • 118.
  • At 10:34 AM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • Xander wrote:

"Las Vegas may culturally be a millions miles from the sophisticated Bay Area coffee shops - but even out here, observations like this about technology are not unusual. I simply can't imagine the same thing happening in deepest rural England."

Compare Las Vegas to deepest rural England?

The population of Las Vegas is 376,000, wheras a similar comparison within the u.k (in terms of population at least) might be the City of Manchester (422,900)

I would hardly need hasten to add that anyone drawing a comparison in terms of technological knowledge between a city like Las Vegas and a rural backwater in England might wish to revise their choice of career.

  • 119.
  • At 09:30 AM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • J Nelhams wrote:

One thing I could never work out is why are all the Bank Notes the same size in the USA? It must make getting the correct change difficult if your blind.

  • 120.
  • At 12:42 AM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • calvin bailey wrote:

Anyone that thinks the US keeps up with technology is a monkey!

I've recently moved here from the UK and 3G isn't really rolled out here. The phone I have, which is 18 months old in the UK, is NEW here. And the mobile phone services are backwards to say the least..

Airtime here means airtime.. so the 120 minutes I have is for incoming and outgoing calls!!!! I have never purchased a new phone in the UK and have always got the latest tech for free each year.. obviously I had not to renew my last one before I came here - hence the 18 month old phone - but here the free ones are RUBBISH!

Internet banking is new. Direct debits are new. Bundled services are new..

America advanced.. get real.

  • 121.
  • At 05:24 AM on 09 Nov 2007,
  • Scotto wrote:

As an American who has traveled for business to every region on earth I must admit that we are sadly defeated in the mobile phone arena - hands down. Sadly, we are slaves of the companies that have no interest in keeping up with the Jones. The bottom line is all that matters to these companies. The sad thing is that we allow it. Upgrading technology and infrastructure is the last thing on their minds. That being said, there is a lot of territory to cover by comparison to the tiny Countries in Europe. I don't see how corporate politics and economics is a good measure of the typical Americans tech knowledge. However, Even though beaten in the mobile arena, all other claims on this blog are pure rubbish. By the way, all of you Europeans living here in America that are complaining about how bad it is here - please kindly leave immediately. All other Europeans, or other nationalities for that matter, with a good attitude are generously welcome to our backwards boorish little Country.

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