I think I have done more than 15years at BETT, I think that in actual fact this is my 20th year ! And wow, how things have changed. In those really early years the ‘show’ was dominated by individuals who had taken the embryo technology of the time and who were thinking educationally of its potential form a personal and learner perspective. They had small booths with blu tackednotices on the walls and a pasting table covered by a cloth on which … if they were luck … they had a ‘machine’ to show off their wares. The disks were those big floppy ones … many of the machines were BBC ‘B’s and the people were passionate about their personal work and their beliefs.
At BETT this year there will still be those people, in the small stands, on the gallery perhaps, who have had an idea and have seen it to fruition and are the passionate owners of it. What matters to them is that people see and listen to what they have done and have an appreciation that it was, for the designer, programmer, developer not just a matter of money but also a matter of belief.
I remember well the moment when the ‘show’ began to grow. I was working with good friends Simon and Philippa Barrett at the time – we were ‘BlackCat’. It was the year the company moved on and had a big stand and we stood their so proud that what we believed was now this size … we had loads of ‘groupies’. It was great … we believed so strongly that what we were producing was right for children and right for teachers. Nothing happened if it hadn’t real educational value. Interestingly this was about the time that RM started loaning demonstration machines to smaller concerns – they had seen the sense in having people using their RM machines to demo their own software.
As time went on more and more big, and I do mean BIG, stands arrived to compete and take over the ethos of the ‘show’. Really big business had arrived and with a competitive vengeance. Most of the little people were beginning to consider their place in the overall scheme of things and many friend made over the years have now stopped working or their ideas have become subsumed into larger entities.
During my years at BETT I have been privileged to have been part of the teams that have won three BETT Awards for primary software. Two of these came whilst I was working with BlackCat and the third, and most recent, with Lightbox for Podium (THE Podcasting tool).
As I approach this year’s event – still with passion intact – and a belief in the concepts and ideas behind the applications I will talk to people about, I would like to advise that a good policy on visiting the ‘show’ is to listen carefully to the whispers rather than be taken in by the shouts.