Hipster disruptor? Never trust a well-groomed caveman with your clams

Back to the primitive! F*** all your politics!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The Dawn of Man. Picture a pastoral scene of prehistoric arcadian bliss as our troglodyte ancestors sit about calmly picking fleas off each other's backs.

One eats a banana. Another slowly munches the scraps from a mammoth bone. The rest seem happy munching the fleas. Mmm, fleas.

Young Trog is wallowing in a nearby rock pool, his eyes dreamily thoughtful under heavy brows. Suddenly, an idea comes into his pea brain. He leaps from the rock pool, yelling "Eureka!"

His fellow ape-like creatures look up, grunting expressions of mild concern in their rough approximation of language: "What's up, dude?", "Hey, Trog, are you OK?", "What's a 'eureka'?" etc.

Our hero points a hairy finger back at the rock pool. "I've just invented the bathtub! It's a revolution in personal hygiene!"

A few of his companions wander across to take a look, some with knuckles dragging, others scratching arses, most still picking fleas. They are filled with wonder: "Gosh, that's clever, Trog", "What a nifty concept", "What's a 'personal hygiene'?" etc.

Trog pitches his business case.

"Civilisation starts here, guys. My bathtub concept of smart washing will disrupt the interpersonal cleaning workflow. It'll put an end to the misery of picking and eating fleas of each other's backs."

The other members of his tribe are impressed. "Great idea!" they say, "Count me in!", "What's the lead-in period?", "Do I get a discount if I buy ten?", "But I like fleas" etc.

A week later, the troglodytes are queuing up to use the rock pool as young Trog collects bathtub patent fees from them in the form of clams. Trog is growing rich. He has taken to combing his thick hair and has shaven the sides. Bearing in mind that his entire body is covered in thick hair, the combing and shaving has taken him a long time.

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Trog outlines development plans to his angel investors, huddled nearby.

"Smart washing is forcing the hand of progress. Look over there," he says, drawing attention to a terrifying fight between two large troglodytes who are battling for the right to become the tribe's alpha male. "Scientific advancement will put an end to such beastly displays of primeval violence and bring about a new age in which intelligence, science and knowledge are valued over such thuggish brutes."

Having clouted his opponent over the head with a rock, the musclebound winner of the battle dons the tribe's stone crown and struts off to the mating cave.

That moment, another youngster shuffles up to the bathing group. He is lugging with him a block of stone that has been artlessly hewed into a rough hexagonal shape.

The young upstart yells: "I've invented the wheel!"

Several creatures break away from the queue to take a closer look. "Great design!" they say, "What's it for?"

"You use it to assist with moving goods more effectively on the roads," he explains. "It'll totally disrupt the transportation industry."

More troglodytes gather round and grunt expressions of admiration. "I must have one of those!", "If I buy two, do I get one free?", "What's a 'road'?" etc.

Within a week, the new youngster has grown as rich in clams as Trog. As well as slicking back his body hair and shaving the sides, he has shaped the long hair on his chin into the form of a rectangle. Every member of the tribe has purchased a wheel and is sweating through the workout of pushing their awkward hexagonal lumps of rock around purposefully from place to place even though the only thing that needs transporting is other wheels.

Yet another youngster skips onto the scene, effortlessly rolling a circular carved rock before him. "Take a look at this, folks! I've invented the self-driving wheel!"

The tribe stops to gasp at the perfectly rounded rock. They are amazed at its continuous rolling movement compared to that of their own clunky hexagonal rocks.

A few members of the tribe ask to buy a self-driving wheel but the kid refuses to take orders. Instead, he announces that he will have a limited supply the next morning and will dispense them on a first-come, first-served basis.

For some reason, now everyone wants one. A couple who are particularly eager decide to camp overnight in order to be first the queue. Someone has to quickly invent barrier tape to keep them in order.

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A week later, Trog announces his comeback, reminding the tribe that despite losing most of his clams in the failed launch of his new "whirlpool" bathtub – all his customers drowned – he was the original ape-like animal who kickstarted the age of invention.

Indeed, he uses the opportunity to unveil his latest product. It's a rectangular slab of grey stone artfully covered in a coating made from the crushed shells of clams. You sit down on any chair, rest the slab on your knees and stare at it. It's called "The Slabtop".

Everyone is terribly impressed. "It's so wonderfully 'slabby'!", "Love the clamshell design!", "I could stare at it for hours!", "What's a 'chair'?" etc.

It sells brilliantly.

By now, a new generation of well-groomed troglodytes is entering the market to great public acclaim. Musclebound meatheads are out of fashion and no one bothers to watch them as they impotently battle to be alpha male.

One of the kid-trogs is quick to show off his invention. It looks like a bone. It is a bone. But not just any bone.

It's a mobile bone.

You carry it with you at all times so that, if you want to speak to another troglodyte on the next hill, you raise the mobile bone to your ear and yell as loudly as you can in his direction.

The communication industry is disrupted forever. Long-distance grunting will never be the same again.

Indeed, just as soon as everyone has spent the last of their clams on mobile bones, the same kid troglodyte has devised a revolutionary feature update. Yes, it still looks a bit like a mobile bone but it's different because instead of raising it to your ear, you just walk around looking at it.

It's a smart bone.

Now showing off his personal wealth by wearing the skin of a turtle across his shoulders, kid-trog unveils the much-anticipated smart bone at an invitation-only event in the largest private cave in the region.

The crowd goes wild. "Extraordinary bone-work!", "Beautiful calcium feel!", "Love the turtleneck jumper" etc.

Trog himself is now making a third fortune lending money to everyone wanting to buy smart bones, having devised a method of digging up small pieces of clams. Although it is an open standard, bit-clam mining is deliberately too complicated for anyone else to understand until Trog has already dug most of them up.

In the background, several potential alpha-males are about to face off but instead shrug their hairy shoulders and walk off dejectedly to find other tribes.


The Dawn of Man. Picture an urban scene of prehistoric industrial bliss as our troglodyte ancestors go about their daily business.

Some are rolling their self-driving wheels up and down, while others are supping frothy creek water from disposable stone cups as they pore over their slabtops. Many of the creatures stagger about aimlessly bumping into each other as they stare at their smart bones.

The older trogs have taken to wearing turtle skin around their necks. The younger types don wool-based garments that have been woven into primitive lumberjack check designs. A couple are sniggering as they have spotted a less well-clammed member of the tribe carrying an old mobile bone.

No one eats fleas any more. Eww, fleas.

The air is filled with new age conversation. "Can I have a squeeze of lizard on my creek water?", "Where can I plug in my slabtop?", "My self-driving wheel broke down at the bottom of the hill", "What's a lumberjack?" etc.

Not far away, a corpulent, orange-faced troglodyte wallows in an oversized rock pool in a vast clam-lined cave. He wears the stone crown over a mane of carefully forward-combed hair.

He is carving prehistoric runes onto his smartphone:


He pauses for thought with his pea brain, popping a flea into his mouth, before adding:


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Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He promises that normal service will be resumed next week, when he can return to the usual routine of complaining about insecure IoT devices and customer data hacks without offering any constructive suggestion as to how to solve such problems.

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