August 2003 Archives
August 28, 2003
Tony Blair has been before the Lord Hutton:
I'll be interested to see the full transcript on the Inquiry website tomorrow.
There's an interesting piece in The Guardian's Online section today, discussing the online archive in more depth.
I think this is the most interesting section:
Last Sunday, Greg Dyke changed that. He revealed that the BBC is planning to digitise and offer for download, for free, as much of its back catalogue of programmes that it can legally do, from the earliest radio reels to nature documentaries to educational programmes. Anyone will be allowed to re-use, re-edit and mix this material with their own, provided it's for non-commercial use."radio reels", "nature documentaries", "education programmes"? Ah, much becomes clear. Not only is the commercial market for those very much small than, say, episodes of Dr Who or Walking With Dinosaurs, it's significantly more simple to sort out the licensing for online distribution.
I revise my earlier opinion. I expect this to happen sooner rather than later, but don't expect to see much, if any, of the Beeb's drama and comedy output on there.
City Comforts describes an innovative project in the US to turn an overpass into a normal street.
Of course, those with a sense of history will know that this is far from a new concept. Only a few centuries ago, London's Bridges were covered with buildings in exactly this manner. Still it's an interesting idea and one I've stored away for potential use in Estates Gazette at some point.
August 26, 2003
Interesting entry in the blog:
In essence, the blogger submitted some information to a journalist, but was uncredited in the article that was published. He asks the question:
Do "real" journalists have less netiquette than webloggers, or is this just business as usual?The answers in the comments are depressingly predictable and clueless.
The answer is, of course, it depends on the journalist, the editor he's writing for and the publication's style. Anders bemoans the lack of a link back to him: it could be that providing external links is against the publication's policy. He mentions the lack of credit: often, while researching a story, journalists are bombarded with the same information again and again. In the end, only those who were directly quoted in the story are generally credited. Otherwise, the whole feature would be nothing but a long name-check.
Anders at least asks the question. His commenters show the typically depressing blogger mindset of treating us journalists like a monolithic social block that all behave the same way. Yet if any journalist should dare to describe bloggers in the same way, all hell breaks loose...
I use the question mark in the above headline advisedly. You see, the world and her husband are busy getting excited about the fact that Greg Dyke has said that the BBC intends to put its massive archive online, for free.
I find it interesting that he makes no reference to the massive, complicated issue of artists' rights that doing this would involve. The BBC already lets you listen to recently broadcast radio shows online, but only allows it for a limited period, because of issues with artists' rights. Until the Beeb has negotiated some sort of sea change in the way actors and presenters are paid for their work, it'll be a long time before we see Mr Dyke's pledge coming true.
Indeed, most of the current negotiations in the field are for the release of BBC DVDs and CDs. Can you really see our state-funded broadcaster giving up that additional revenue stream so easily?
One promise to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt, I think.
Significantly more positive takes on the situation can be found at
Hangingday [Link Dead] and Oblomovka [via Population: One]. All make good point but I still think they've let themselves get carried away by the possibilities, rather than the huge obstacles. I'm not going to treat this seriously until we hear how the BBC has resolved the actors' residual fees issue, or announced that only a tiny, limited selection of the archive will be available.
The BBC has done a rather nice photographic round-up of the top 10 UK buildings, as chosen by the Commision for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
August 22, 2003
I'm looking at a pile of cuttings right now. We get these once or twice a day in the office and I've fallen behind in going through them for one reason or another. In particular, I'm looking at a page from last Monday, with cuttings from two seperate papers. The two headlines?
Housing market pick-up lessens negative equity fear
House prices stall as bubble effect fades
Well, that's cleared things up.
August 20, 2003
One of my colleagues thoughtfully left a copy of The Sun is the office loo today. Inside was a quite marvellous article outlining how Lara Croft is destroying relationships because men lust after her and not their girlfriends.
Our favourite tabloid is quite happy to print pictures of the voluptuous Lady Croft, both the live action and digital versions, while condemning her as a cyber marriage wrecker. The article is, of course, nonsense.
Ladies, I'll let you into a secret. Any man who'd rather waggle away on his Playstation rather than have sex with you is either not worth having any more or has lost interest in you anyway. Consider it a lucky escape.
August 18, 2003
As we start laying out the first issue of its replacement, GRID. it's interesting to see what a lay person thinks of the mag.
In answer to one of his questions, the online version of Office Trends, such that it is, lurks behind the barrier of a subscription to the Estates Gazette Group online service, EGi.
Well now, here's an interesting development. The Guardian newspaper has had news and technology weblogs for a little while now. This morning it has decided to launch a weblog devoted to a single political cause: an end to all agricultural subsidies.
It's been online for a little while, with the first entry back last Tuesday.
It's an issue that interests me and I'll be watching the weblog. The big question in my mind, though, is when are the other newspapers are going to enter the blogging pool, where The Guardian is swimming all alone right now?
One thing does puzzle me about all of this, though. Why host it on Typepad, rather than as a MT blog on The Guardian's own webservers? It may be that this was done without going through the publisher's IT team, and who can blame them?
August 12, 2003
August 11, 2003
I tend to avoid writing about things close to my day job here, but I found this post on Samizdata.net interesting. Brian Micklethwait has some insightful things to say about Terry Farrell, Broadway Malyan and certain architectural choices.
All this is very much in my mind as I pull together the first issue of GRID, the magazine for finance, development, design and construction of office buildings.
He also sings the praises of the Erotic Gherkin, a building that we devoted 6 pages to in the last issue of Office Trends, which GRID is replacing.
Iain Murray has a thoughtful piece about the
drinking culture in the UK on his blog. [Links dead] The thrust of the piece is a discussion of the reasons behind a trend for young Brits to go out with the intention of getting drunk, rather than an intention to socialise.
Iain comes to an interesting conclusion:
Whatever the debate about relative crime levels, I am not sure that many people with extensive experience of both countries would argue with the proposition that the UK is a more disorderly country than the US. The more I think about it, the more I am sure that this shift in attitude to drinking is a symptom of increasing disregard for the societal rules of order -- manners, as Wilberforce would have put it.There are some other reasons for this trend, not least the move away from tenanted pubs towards the large managed bar chains after the Beer Orders of 1989. (These have since been revoked. Legislation designed to break the hold of the large breweries over the pub trade result in nothing more than a transfer of power to the large pub operating chains. (I used to write for The Publican newspaper, incidentally)) Ever notice that the big, city centre pubs seem to have loads of seats, yet when you try and sit down, you can't find one free? Have you ever noticed that you drink more while standing up? There is a distinct connection between these facts.
August 10, 2003
August 8, 2003
August 6, 2003
As Eric has pointed out, I haven't been very good at replying to comments of late, so I thought I'd better get to it, post haste.
But what is an editorialist (the focus of the piece) that sets him or her above any random non-expert posting to his LJ, aside from a paycheck signed by the New York Times? I thought you'd written about this subject, before.
In theory, the answer is "research" and "contacts". The editorialist is expressing not just his own opinion, but those of his contacts in the marketplace. He's becoming a conduit for the opinion of experts who cannot express themselves openly. At least, that's the theory. The truth is more likely to be that the rise of the opinion columnist, who makes money by ranting about anything that takes their fancy has lead to editorial writer starting to walk the same path. At that point, the only thing that separate them from a well-informed blogger is writing skill and subbing support. Sometime that difference is all too small.
He also said:
I'm interested in this letter of Kelly's Lord Hutton has. According to the Financial Times (from ever-handy Instapundit):
Lord Hutton on Friday revealed that Mr Kelly - the official referred to by Mr Gilligan - told his Ministry of Defence line manager that the story bore little relation to the information he gave to the reporter.
Mr Kelly wrote to his MoD boss after Mr Gilligan had given evidence to the foreign affairs select committee for the first time. In a letter sent on June 30, the weapons expert said he had met Mr Gilligan to "privately discuss his Iraq experiences and definitely not to discuss the dossier".
The letter claimed Mr Kelly did "not even consider that I was the source" of the Today story until a friend pointed out that comments by the source on Iraq's chemical and biological capacity were the sort of remarks he would make.
The prevailing view on this is that Kelly was busy trying to cover his arse with all due speed. Who can blame him? The BBC are adamant that he was their source (and have a tape to prove it). This means that the organization genuinely believes this, or that there's another source whom the Beeb would rather not find lying on a hillside with mysterious pads on his or her chest...
August 1, 2003
Yet more, this time from the Daily Telegraph...
Three days after the death of Dr David Kelly something curious was going on in the offices of the Ministry of Defence.
On the evening of Sunday July 20, MoD police were alerted to an incident in the ministry's Metropole Buildings, off Whitehall.
The official line is that a "burn bag", used for the disposal of classified and sensitive information, had been discovered unattended outside an office. The MoD police did not consider it a matter for them, and it ended there.
However, unofficial sources have told The Telegraph that something more was going on - that the MoD police had been called by a security guard after a "senior official" was discovered hurriedly shredding material.
So, this was all the BBC's fault, hmmm?
From the BBC News report on the Kelly Inquiry:
Lord Hutton said his task was to investigate the circumstances surrounding the scientist's death, quickly and fairly.
He also revealed that Dr Kelly's body had been found with four electrocardiogram pads on his chest - one of the issues he wished to resolve.
Curiouser and curiouser...