TV's Colin Murray talks tech, tablets and Twitter

Radio DJ, TV presenter, sports journalist and celebrity Liverpool fan Colin Murray has recently joined forces with BT in order to extol the benefits of superfast broadband and, specifically, the company's BT Infinity service.

But rather than appear in just a series of adverts, his general and sincere love of technology has lead him to record a series of tutorials on why customers should upgrade to broadband, and how the service can improve different aspects of life, across music, sport and gaming.

The clips also see Colin imparting his wisdom on the perils and pitfalls of the use of broadband, with a few tips thrown in for good measure. Great stuff.

However, what about the man himself? Just how much has technology improved his own life?

In order to find out, Pocket-lint spent 30 minutes with Colin to chat about the different ways he interacts with gadgets, gizmos and technological doo-hickeys, discovering exactly what he thinks about Twitter and footballers who tweet along the way...

PL: What does the Internet mean to you?

CM: It’s changed so much. It used to mean being blown away by a page of text that loaded in about 45 seconds. Now it means freedom to a certain extent; freedom to discover music; freedom to connect globally to sports I wasn’t able to before; freedom to socialise with people who, unfortunately, live further away than I’d like. So, I think that the keyboard would be “freedom”.

How has technology generally improved things for you?

Enjoyment and technology are probably two different things. I’ve been doing the three different things for BT - gaming, music and sport - test driving the new BT Infinity, superfast broadband. And if you take the difference between playing online gaming with that compared to the first football game I played, with a stick man, where the only way to score was to go right up to the six yard box, pull back on the joystick and you used to hit the top of the net, it’s just a whole new world.

Kenny Dalglish Soccer Match on the Spectrum?

I don’t think it was Kenny Dalglish Soccer… I think it was World Cup Soccer, or something. Even that came after the slower days, when we had a square [computer]. And then behind the square we had, what looked like, a TV that wasn’t tuned in. And we’d load the game in; Balderdash, Paper Boy… Just games that took so long to load.

I remember Balderdash, and that blew me away. It’s just an amazing game.

That’s because it’s relative to what you knew…

Exactly.

I think the difference now is that it’s every day. It’s no longer a pleasure.

But, back to today’s technology…

People talk about technology, about creativity, but it’s really about the practicality. With the progression of something like a tablet, a thing you can carry that’s like a book, the option of reading a book in that way is now a lot more applicable. The option of downloading a magazine on that wonderful colour screen that you can take with you and read - which you can’t do on a laptop on public transport – it’s not necessarily easier, but it’s that combination of convenience and practicality, that’s when things truly advance, the ease to use it.

It’s like with music. Going online to listen to music ten years ago was about trying to find that music for free. Whereas now, with things like Sonos, it’s not about that, it’s not about depriving the music industry of money, it’s about having an endless stream of different kinds of music.

I buy more music and download more music in traditional fashion because of that system.

Do you think people are more willing, therefore, to listen to brand new bands now that you can stream tracks from the ‘net?

Pros and cons. It depends on what system you’re using. With the system I was lucky enough to get [Sonos], it goes into two or three different rooms, and now with the faster broadband it means that I can have three different radio stations in three different rooms at the same time. So, I’ll discover a band or song just because I’m listening to a certain jazz or deep south radio station that I can get just as easily as any other. I’m not stealing anything, I’m not changing the industry as such, but what I am doing is jotting down the names of tracks as and when I’m hearing them, and then buying them.

The con is that, although I still really value the album and the order that the band chooses for the tracks, I think that’s lost a little bit. But what you would hope would happen, like with in some forms of print, is that when technology becomes much more practical [still] and much more mainstream, then those traditional formats can make money in exactly the same way.

For example, would you have downloaded a daily newspaper and read it on public transport using a laptop? You’d never have done that. Whereas, I can see the worth in downloading a daily newspaper on a tablet. It all has to evolve.

But do you still buy hard copies of albums?

Absolutely!

I do a radio show from bedroom every week from my bedroom, picking the music as I go along, and at the moment it’s a ridiculously collection of wires, of CD players, of vinyl, of USBs, of iPods connected.

There’s nothing better than going into a record shop and if you get the right relationship with somebody who shares advice. The one thing that I don’t like about music online is the whole “you like this, you may like that”, because I don’t think any computer can replace that human knowledge of music, because musical taste is about so much more than just similar genres.

I think you could like Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine, and somebody could go to you, “you like that? Then you should try this Marvin Gaye album”. You don’t get that online. It’s always genre based.

I don’t think you can be as purist as saying “vinyl good, downloading bad” though. The amount of people that say to me, “you should only buy records, you shouldn’t download”, and I’ve gone to them, “do you own an MP3 player?” and they go, “yeah”.

I am worried that the kids have never seen a record player. I find that disconcerting. But, do you know what, the world’s mainstream. I’m sure there’s a lot of subjects out there where I would go, “well I just do this”, and they go, “well, you’re a bit of a philistine”.

Do you tweet?

No, I don’t. I have a personal Facebook page, but I’m quite traditional. I’m a print journalist by trade and I try to make money out of my body of work rather than trying to create any type of profile.

I think there’s a lot of valid reasons to use Twitter. On a musical front, different bands tweeting this and that from an information front – news wise, politically. But I really don’t get the “following” thing. I’m one of those that very much views what I do as a job I work at, like anyone else works a job, so I don’t know why I would use it.

It’s alien to me. Why would people want to know what I was going to have for dinner? So it’s not something that really appeals to me.

I will use it to search as a form of information. In that it’s quite valuable. But it seems quite primitive to me, and I can’t quite find a personal use for it.

What do you think of the footballers who tweet?

I think it’s funny. Footballers are wrapped in cotton wool at the highest level, and it’s not like it used to be where the journalists would travel with the players, so there’s a lot of rumour and hearsay involved. And I think it’s interesting when you get a tweet from a footballer that maybe something that the club would’ve preferred that they had not stated. It always makes me laugh.

I think that you can get in a lot of trouble with Twitter.

Do you think that sometimes journalists use Twitter too much? For example, when papers printed Carlton Cole’s April Fools tweet as fact?

Some April Fools jokes work. Andy Murray tweeted that he was going to announce his new coach and then said “April Fools”. No Andy, an April Fool is something that is so ridiculous and people fall for it. Something like the tickets for the London Olympics 2012 are going to smell like the event. THAT’S an April Fool, not saying you’re going to announce a coach when you haven’t won a game all year and you need a coach.

Speaking of sports stars, who out of all of your celebrity chums is the biggest gadget geek?

Good question.  But the problem there would be that I don’t have any celebrity chums. I literally don’t have a single celebrity friend.

I have celebrities I like, but I’ve kind of always made it a rule not to… I’ve got a friend who’s not a celebrity really. His names Chris Cox, he’s a mind reader, and he’s tremendously dull at times. He’s the type of person who gets his phone out in a bar and says, “have a look at my app”, so it’s probably him as he’s the closest I’ve got to a celebrity friend. And by that I mean that he does the Edinburgh Festival every year, but that’s about as close I can get.

I think I’m probably the most technology mad person I know, who’s in the public eye.

You know what? I might be the nerd.

You can catch up with Colin's BT Infinity tutorials on the dedicated website at www.btlife.bt.com/infinityhowto/.



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