Quotes of the year: From Steve Jobs' impact to why architects are the Britneys of IT

The best tech soundbites from 2011...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

The best tech soundbites from 2011...

As another tech-fuelled year draws to a close, silicon.com's Natasha Lomas looks back through the archives for the soundbites that made an impact in 2011...


"It's a raindrop in a thunderstorm. We see over 90,000 new unique samples of malware every day and 99.999 per cent of that is for Windows"
- Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, deflating the mobile malware hype

"Just as I wouldn't insist on someone using a quill pen with ink out of an inkwell to make their notes, I don't see why in this day and age they have to use paper to make their notes"
- Greg Knight MP, chairman of the procedure committee, agitating for iPad use to be sanctioned in the House of Commons

"It's common knowledge that the human brain is incapable of understanding the career implications of electronic communications prior to the send button being pressed"
- Paul Haley, director of IT at the University of Aberdeen, warning on the dangers of tweeting before thinking

"If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband"
- T-Mobile blog post giving some rather surprising advice to users of the mobile network

"If Apple made a car it'd be the best car in the world"
- Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, imagining an Apple automobile in an interview with silicon.com


"Any company run by unknowing and mechanistic minds is in jeopardy and faces a limited life. Specifically, the pursuance of policies that focus on cost reduction and a continued optimisation of the bottom line just accelerate progress towards sudden death"
- Peter Cochrane, silicon.com columnist, on the potentially fatal costs of slavish pursuit of efficiency savings

"The first thing you ought to do to generate more entry-level jobs in the UK is to put out a sign saying, 'If you are skilled in IT we will welcome you here'"
- Mike Lynch, CEO of UK software giant Autonomy, with a practical solution to the UK IT skills shortage

"I asked the school what they do in ICT and they said they look at Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel. I was horrified"
- Dr Sue Black, senior research associate with the software systems engineering group at University College London, laying into unimaginative ICT teaching

Burning platform

Nokia's situation was likened to a burning platformPhoto: hakonthingstad under Creative Commons

"Nokia, our platform is burning"
- memo attributed to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, apparently preparing staff to abandon its own efforts to built a next-gen operating system

"Sometimes craziness gives a good return"
- Masayoshi Son, CEO of Japanese mobile operator SoftBank, telling mobile operators that desperate times can reward taking crazy measures

"If all of a sudden you're aware of other people's thoughts and sensations, and they are aware of yours, then the boundaries of the self can start to dissolve - and what you could get is a kind of technological schizophrenia"
- science writer Michael Chorost explaining the concept explored in his book the World Wide Mind in an interview with silicon.com


"We do not have to build in more and more but rather to simplify. We saw this with Apple... who managed to change an entire industry - and that is what we want to do"
- SAP co-chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe coveting the ways of Cupertino

"The tablet PC did not invent the modern tablet PC. The tablet PC crashed and burned. The modern tablet PC is the iPad"
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs dismisses the pre-iPad tablet era

"Apple understands desire"
- Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps succinctly summing up Apple's appeal

"I am grateful to my noble friends for making me feel, for the first time in a while, that I am a member of the younger generation"
- Lord Lucas reliving his youth with the help of Apple's iPad

"Databases will be created about your microscopic consumption inside your own household and this could mean, for example, that somebody could build a statistical model which would have a pretty good idea, two years before you might know, you were going to get divorced"
- Caspar Bowden, chief privacy adviser for Microsoft's worldwide technology office, voicing fears about smart meters and privacy

"There is the prospect of non-carbon life"
- Peter Cochrane, silicon.com columnist, blogging about ET


"Digital handcuffs - or the malicious features found in proprietary software to restrict the user - are fundamentally evil. They are a nasty practice and our governments, by taking the side of the perpetrators of that nasty practice against the public, have demonstrated how they have betrayed the public to the empire of the mega-corporations"
- Richard Stallman, GNU project founder, laying into all forms of proprietary software in an interview with silicon.com

"It reduces the quality of service, it reduces the flexibility, reduces the reliability and resilience. It is just a really dumb thing to do"
- a former BT exec criticising the telco's choice of fibre to the cabinet broadband tech

"Frankly, we see an opportunity that is expanding faster than we can execute into it"
- RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie with a description of the tablet market from the PlayBook-maker's point of view

No pacemakers

Pacemakers could be the target of denial of service attacks in future, says Robert VamosPhoto: library_mistress under Creative Commons

"Apple is no longer interested in the legions of technology fans. It's after the rest of us"
- silicon.com Apple columnist Seb Janacek assessing Cupertino's latest strategy twist


"When it comes to pacemakers it can be really scary. I don't need to understand the code. I can just throw gibberish at it and cause a denial-of-service attack because it is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, which in this case could be life-threatening"
- Robert Vamosi, author of When Gadgets Betray Us, warning of the risks of relying on technology too much in an interview with silicon.com

"Ir ≈ K⁄N log2[1 + AS ( 1 + PM)]"
- silicon.com columnist Peter Cochrane's formula for intelligence

"If too much gamification goes on, people will realise that worthless extrinsic rewards are worthless"
- professor Richard Bartle, senior lecturer and visiting professor of computer game design at the University of Essex, debunking gamification

"CIO is becoming a cool career path"
- Tony McAlister, CTO of Betfair assessing the changing role of the CIO

"If you go back 10 or 15 years, IT was in a very privileged position because whenever anyone said, 'Oh, I want to do this', the CIO could say, 'Oh, I'm sorry. The technology doesn't allow that'. You were king of the castle. That's no longer the case"
- Mike Wright, head of technology at Man Group, discussing the CIO role - then and now

"I've never had a job description. It would be interesting to poll CIOs, asking 'do you have a job description or is it just assumed that you do everything?'"
- Nic Bellenberg, IT director at magazine publisher Hachette Filipacchi on what the CIO role means to him

"What I have left I fear are, sooner or later, destined for the log burner"
- Peter Cochrane, silicon.com columnist, chronicling the demise of his paper-based book collection


"I like to think of architects as the Britney Spears of IT"
- Forrester VP and principal analyst Mark Cecere with a memorable characterisation of the 'system architect' job role

"Do I really want to leave my ageing mother with a robot that tells her it loves her?"
- Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT, voicing concerns that society is becoming too entangled with technology in an interview with silicon.com

"It's unlikely that anyone would normally choose to 'Like' a bank on Facebook"
- Co-operative Financial Services IT chief Jim Slack telling some social media home truths

"The evening after I deactivated my account my mum phoned up to check I was still alive"
- silicon.com reporter Shelley Portet explaining what happened after she deactivated her Facebook account


"One of the things we are learning at a philosophical level for AI is the cardinal importance of the body. Plato and Aristotle tend to regard the body as an ox the mind must be yoked to, Descartes is famously a brain in a vat. AI has shown us what's wrong with these conceptions. As human beings we really do mediate our experiences through our bodies and senses"
- Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human, speaking in an interview with silicon.com

"This release is not appealing to us in any way. I would go as far as to say that RIM should not have bothered trying to enter the tablet market with this, it simply does not stand up against Apple or Android"
- David Thomson, IT and communications manager at Rice & Dore Associates, responding to a CIO Jury question about the BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook binned

"I would go as far as to say that RIM should not have bothered trying to enter the tablet market with this"Photo: silicon.com

"Apple is so far ahead of everyone else - it knows how to sell magic. Everyone else is trying to sell technology"
- John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, discussing his former workplace in an interview with silicon.com

"How many control freaks does it take to run an IT department?"
- silicon.com's Naked CIO posing the tough questions

"If your friends have good credit then you are likely to. Conversely, if your friends don't have good credit then you are not likely to as well. That's a very dangerous thing because that is essentially guilt by association"
- Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble, explaining how too much online personalisation can be a bad thing


"Social media and other methods have been used to organise these levels of greed and criminality and we need to adapt and learn from what we are experiencing"
- Steve Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, discussing the role of social media in the UK summer riots

"We did contemplate - and I contemplated - seeking the authorities to switch it off"
- Tim Godwin, the Metropolitan Police's acting deputy commissioner, revealing the police considered flicking a social media kill-switch during the UK riots

"I know people who didn't go shopping for years because their every meal was at Google - think how much time that saves. If they could have put dormitories into the building, people would have lived there"
- author Douglas Edwards, one of Google's early employees, discussing what life was like at the start-up in an interview with silicon.com

"When I helped design the PC, I didn't think I'd live long enough to witness its decline. They're going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs"
- Mark Dean, CTO for IBM Middle East and Africa, on the demise of the machine he helped design

"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come"
- Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announcing his resignation for medical reasons

"I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools. Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software but gives no insight into how it's made. That's just throwing away your great computing heritage"
- Google chairman Eric Schmidt attacking the failure of the UK's IT curriculum


A yak: How mountaineers transport their laptopsCreative Commons: Ray Devlin

"I can't get rid of them - they've been on yaks, they've been on trucks, they've been dropped and they're still going"
- mountaineer Russell Brice bemoaning the durability of his less-than-cutting-edge laptop kit

"Autonomy sees the business information transformation and subsequent market opportunity exactly as we do. Moreover, Autonomy's business is well aligned to HP's effort to change and focus our business mix"
- HP CEO Léo Apotheker announcing the acquisition of UK software company Autonomy


"Sometimes the ball bounces in your direction and really great things happen to us that we have no control over. This happens to be one of the best ones"
- Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, celebrating HP's decision to exit the device-making business

"I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's chairman of the board"
- Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz sending an email swansong to her now former co-workers

"I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong"
- the owner of a bar where another prototype iPhone went AWOL

"In five years' time we will have tablets with a small plastic keyboard attached to 'paper' that rolls out to be a screen, all access will be via the cloud and the only choice is whether to use private or public clouds. PCs are almost dead now"
- Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet, predicting the future of business devices

"I'm old enough to remember when there were fierce debates about whether people in the public sector should actually have telephones - when people asked: 'Was there a business case for people to have telephones?' - which seems crazy now"
- Mark O'Neill, head of innovation and delivery at the Government Digital Service, arguing the case for iPads in the public sector

"Success now is all about the power of instant knowledge and this is where the tablet can make a difference"
- former Transport for London CIO Ian Campbell on why businesses should take tablets

"If you go into cloud thinking you will save money, forget it"
- group CIO of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Ian Cohen, with some no-nonsense advice on taking to the cloud


"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius and the world has lost an amazing human being"
- Apple statement on the death of Steve Jobs

"He exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity"
- US president Barack Obama paying tribute to Steve Jobs

Apple announces the death of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs in silhouette against the Apple logoImage: Lightsurgery under Creative Commons

"For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely"
- Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, on his friendship with Steve Jobs

"He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it"
- Larry Page, CEO of Google, on Steve Jobs

"You don't have somebody over to your house to tell better jokes than you"
- Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, giving his take on why a speech he was due to give at Oracle OpenWorld was moved to a conference 'graveyard' slot

"You can check in, but you can't check out. I like to think of it as the roach motel of clouds"
- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison dissing Salesforce.com's technology

"Nobody's gone home since Monday"
- RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie explaining how much over-time RIM's employees had been clocking during a several day BlackBerry service outage

"In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such a outage as experienced by Blackberry. I can't understand why it's taking so long to fix"
- Sir Alan Sugar, entrepreneur and TV personality, venting his anger at the BlackBerry outage

"Mobile changes so quickly that the notion of too soon doesn't really exist any more"
- Dominic Shine, global CIO of Reed Exhibitions, on the rise of HTML5 and mobile web apps

"Would you be happy about something with the intelligence of an ant pulling the trigger? I certainly wouldn't"
- Alan Winfield, professor at the Bristol Robotics Lab, discussing the military's use of robotics technologies such as drones and rising ethical risks

"I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this. Our lawsuit is saying, 'Google, you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off. I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40bn in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product"
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs quoted in Walter Isaacson's biography ripping into the Android platform

"HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG [HP's Personal Systems Group]. It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger"
- Meg Whitman, HP's newly installed president and CEO, reversing the decision to jettison the devices business made by former CEO Apotheker

- Kevin Shields, senior VP of program and product management for the smart devices at Nokia, making the 10 O'Clock News with his excitable keynote at Nokia World


"I now have three bars of wi-fi and 2.5G by way of the unlikely combination of a baking tray and some judicious positioning"
- Peter Cochrane, silicon.com columnist, doing a spot of DIY IT

Wi-fi experiment

DIY IT: Poor wi-fi? Just add a baking tray... Photo: Peter Cochrane/silicon.com

"The biggest threat to the internet is from misguided and overreaching government policy"
- Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia criticising the relationship between governments and the internet

"HTML5 [is] the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms"
- Danny Winokur, VP and general manager, interactive development at Adobe, writing in a blog post that yes, Adobe would finally be taking Steve Jobs' advice and exiting mobile Flash

"The human brain is so exquisitely adapted to be perfectly adapted to whatever environment it's in. If it's in an environment where it communicates mainly with computers, it too will become like a computer - with both the good and bad things [associated with that]"
- Susan Greenfield, professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, explaining her views on the risks to the human brain of too much screentime in an interview with silicon.com

"When we look at technology we can't just look at loss, we also have to look at gain, and we also have to look at skillsets in the context of the modern world - our grandparents' skillset is not the skillset that will serve us the best"
- Tanya Goldhaber, a PhD student at Cambridge University's Engineering Design Centre, discussing the shortcomings of the debate about technology's impact on the brain

"To add insult to injury, my last pair of clean socks was sodden"
- silicon.com columnist Peter Cochrane having a really bad technology day

"We deal with words, not symbols, so we don't have room for them"
- John Simpson, a senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, on why there's no space for smilies in the dictionary

"If I do a blog, no copy editor is peering over my shoulder saying, 'Oh David you should have put a comma in there', so suddenly we're seeing for the first time written language in a much more naked state - much more like it was in the Middle Ages... Or perhaps one should put it another way: the original rules of the spoken language are manifesting themselves in written form in a way that we haven't seen for an awful long time. For a linguist like me, this is very exciting but for your average pedant this is horrifying"
- David Crystal, honorary professor at the School of Linguistics and English Studies at the University of Bangor, on the similarities between blogging and Middle English

Chaucer pilgrims

Blogging harks back to the English of the Middle Ages, says David CrystalPhoto: Matt Brownunder Creative Commons

"They've got all the bits that are needed to be a stonking company but they seem to be a stodgy company instead"
- Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, giving his verdict on CA Technologies

"We can't necessarily say technology's good or bad - it just simply is"
- Aleks Krotoski, academic and journalist, talking to silicon.com about whether humanity has become too entangled with technology

"As we ramp up the volume and velocity of communication, we start to expect fast answers and, in order to get them, we ask each other simpler questions, we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters. It's as though we've all put ourselves on cable news"
- Sherry Turkle, sociologist, on the consequences for human communications of an 'always-on' society

"You had only about a 50/50 chance of moving data between Atari computers using a floppy disk because the alignment between floppy disk drives was never guaranteed"
- Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Nokia, reliving his early computing experiences

"I was unthinkingly confident about technology, until I learned to be quietly and constantly terrified, in the Cold War way, of nuclear war"
- William Gibson, author and father of cyberpunk, remembering what technology meant and what it came to mean

"I built my first computer out of a shoebox and eight marbles which encoded an eight-bit number"
- Hermann Hauser, co-founder of Acorn Computers and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, recalling his early tech tinkering

"The 6502 may have only had eight bits but they were perfect bits"
- Mike Lynch, CEO of Autonomy, divulging his early computing memories

"People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint"
- Steve Jobs quoted by Walter Isaacson hating on Microsoft PowerPoint

"His goal was to be vigilant against 'the bozo explosion' that leads to a company being larded with second-rate talent"
- Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs


"CIOs are in a learning phase right now. In 20 years, IT leaders will look back to what's happening at the moment and recognise that the industry morphed and changed. Technology will eventually be a business discipline that is entrenched within the central organisation - not an outsider looking in"
- Jim Orr, author and director at Information Builders, predicting the shape of CIOs to come

"It struck me that it was a bit like having the Pope teach a course on sex, reproduction and parenting"
- Peter Cochrane, silicon.com columnist, reflecting on the uselessness of a professor of entrepreneurship with no hands-on experience of starting or running a business

"Distributed denial-of-service attacks against websites of independent media, human rights defenders, dissidents, whistleblowers and other new media actors are also a matter of growing concern"
- statement by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers warning against online censorship

"It does seem, for the moment at least, that that processor power is overshooting demand"
- Nick Dillon, analyst at Ovum, questioning the need for quad-core mobile chipsets

"A giant bet with significant risk"
- analyst IDC's assessment of Microsoft's decision to unify its desktop and tablet operating system while keeping its mobile OS separate

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