I caught up with an old friend in Starbucks today.

He brought his iPad to show me photos of his home and family.

We love the same kind of music and like me he had spent a fortune downloading his favourite albums from iTunes.

He gave me a few tips for holiday reading, Kindle books which I bought from Amazon after Googling the reviews, which I read while sipping a diet coke before walking to McDonald’s in my Nike trainers.

Did I really do all that in one day?

No…but I could.

Do you actually know anyone who doesn’t use Amazon, Google or Apple?

Yes, alright there’s your great uncle Arthur who leaves his teeth in a glass overnight and tucks his shirt into his underpants but that’s about it.

Wherever you go in the world people are shopping at Amazon, catching up with friends on Facebook or tweeting and guess what? All those earth-shaking brands were created in the USA.

Bill Gates of Microsoft, another American genius, changed the world with his Windows programme, teaching ignoramuses (like me) to use a computer.

So…what happened to Britain?

We gave the world steam engines, telescopes, telephones, TV and photography.

We invented invention if you get my drift.

Throughout the Victorian era British ingenuity transformed the world on a daily basis.

Living in Britain was life at the centre of the universe.

If we could only harness a fraction of that ingenuity today it would reinvigorate our nation.

We can’t just leave it to the Americans to blaze a trail.

We built the worldwide web, why didn’t we create the software to go with it instead of leaving it to Microsoft?

Where’s our pioneering instinct?

What happened to those British entrepreneurs whose ideas revolutionised the world?

Do we really need Apple to show us how to develop communication devices after we invented the telephone?

Alexander Graham Bell can’t help us but someone in Britain can.

All we have to do is find him/her.

Any ideas?

By Guardian columnist Vic Barlow