Tech-based firm perpetuates geek stereotype
It is a promotional video described as an introduction to company’s product QuantumFilm. The approach is to have someone acting the part of an engineer begin an introduction to the subject and then be talked over by an inset commentator who provides an alternative dumbed-down version, along with remarks about how the engineer is making it boring.
That alternative introduction is so basic as to be worthless except to give the vague impression that QuantumFilm is a good thing, according to InVisage. For the engineer, or journalist, who is looking for information that is both frustrating and mildly offensive.
Am I being over-sensitive?
Like many around the world I enjoy the adventures of Drs Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory television show. That too dwells on the social inadequacies of various scientists benchmarked against the behaviour of the "normal" Penny.
So what is the difference? The primary difference is that The Big Bang Theory is entertainment. It has no remit to inform or educate. And, in any case, the number and variety of scientists depicted in the show provide a rich tapestry that ultimately makes the point that scientists make a difference in the world by extending human knowledge.
In contrast, the InVisage video sends me the message that a knowledge of electronics and an ability to use precise language is boring and it is both easier and better to simply call something "cool."
One argument that InVisage might raise in defense of the video is that approach was chosen to self-select a non-scientific audience and that they have other more technical presentations for engineers.
It is true that they have produced other such videos. I would counter this by saying that there was no necessity to play the engineer as a geek. It may reflect a commonly held stereotypical view in society but it underestimates the technology awareness of the broader public and is ultimately a dis-service to the company.
We often hear how the electronics industry and society in general is struggling to get enough young people interested in science technology engineering and maths. If a young student watched that video would he be more likely or less likely to want to take up a STEM career?
If InVisage is going to grow and prosper it will need to recruit many technology-savvy graduates for research posts, for management and also for marketing. So portraying technological competence as boring is wrong, and counterproductive for individual companies and society at large.
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