13 November 2009 | Tanya Goodin

The man who knows everything about everything


As many of you have likely heard, the venerable Stephen Fry brought down the house at the IAB Engage Conference on Wednesday.

I was lucky enough to be in the audience for his ‘fireside’ chat with IAB chairman, Richard Eyre.

The actor/writer/blogger/tweeter/king-of-swimwear talked about a wide range of topics, but mostly waxed poetically about his love of gadgets and all things techie. He revealed to the captivated audience that he owns a clone of the NeXT computer Tim Berners Lee wrote the World Wide Web protocols on. Fry also proudly decreed that he introduced Lord Peter Mandelson to his first website (the Conservative Party site, ironically!).

It is hard to pick one ‘favourite’ moment from the chat. I’m certain that I could listen to him talk for days on end and fail to be bored.

One thing that really moved me was how openly he discussed his bipolar disorder and hypersensitivity to ‘boring-gate’. “I nearly committed Twittercide,” he exclaimed. Thanks, Stephen for another colourful word to use in the Twitterverse!

Without sounding arrogant, he demonstrated that he understands the value of his ‘brand’. For products he believes in he’ll invest a lot of quality time to, “be a better [advertising] whore than many”.

Dell, apparently, is not a brand that has the Fry seal of approval. He told the IAB Engage crowd, “I’d rather go naked with ‘kick me’ on my head than be seen with a Dell in public!” His passion for anything Apple was highlighted when he confessed that he basically starved to be the second person in the UK to buy an early edition Mac (after fellow tech-lover Douglas Adams).

Journalists and the print medium were also given a critical poke by Fry during the chat. Journalists, he opined, are, “deranged and pathological about Twitter.”

He also admitted that he hasn’t read a newspaper in 12 years. “I hate them-it’s like looking at used lavatory paper,” quipped Britain’s national treasure. I always pictured him holed up at home on Sunday morning with all the Nationals spread around him. There goes that vision!

By far, I think the best quote of the day was, ” [I’m] not a performer anymore, I’m a ‘content provider’.”

Well said by the man with 987,851 Twitter followers!

According to moderator Eyre’s calculations, Fry is within weeks of securing his one millionth follower.

We can all learn from the UK’s king of tweeting about how to use Twitter effectively. His tweets on a broad range of fascinating subjects must be the reason why people continue to ‘click to Follow’ in  droves.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar