July 2005 Archives
July 29, 2005
Early yesterday morning, Flickr welcomed our millionth member.
Excellent news. I've been using Flickr since late last year, and I love it. It works really well both as a method of getting my photos out there and of finding other interesting images to look at.
One interesting thought: if there are a million members on there, how many photos are there?
July 27, 2005
I've just run across an interesting post from Neil McIntosh about the phrase "citizen journalist", often used to describe bloggers and mobloggers who do some form of reporting, and how lacking in meaning it really is.
I very briefly became a citizen journalist of note about three weeks ago, because of a handful of photos I took on the morning of the London bombings. I do feel odd about the whole thing, because the people who spoke to me were trying so hard not to look at the facts. I was lauded in an AP story and Wired as an example of the new breed of citizen journalists. But I'm not a citizen journalist. I'm a professional journalist. I have the NUJ card and the weekly deadlines stress as features editor of a major business magazine to prove it. It's a natural impulse for me to report on things. It's what I do for a living. And using a professional to illustrate a story about amateurs still seems odd to me. Sure, what I was doing wasn't part of my job, but I'm still, inherently, someone who makes a living by communicating things.
I suspect that one of the real reasons I was picked up on around the 7th of July was that I am easy to track down. I blog under my real name, and my work contact details can be easily found on the EG Group website.
However, what people like me were doing that day wasn't really traditional journalism. We were documenting things around the actual explosions: the mood of people in the city, the way Londoners were reacting, what it felt like to be in the city that day. If you followed Flickr photos and blog posts you could gain a much more palpable sense of how London reacted to the events of that day than any reporter can get by sticking a microphone under the nose of a passer-by and asking if they're scared.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that Neil is right. The "citizen journalist" term is essentially bogus. What bloggers and mobloggers are doing in situations like that is adding to the breadth of communication around an event, not competing with the mainstream media. The phrase sets up an implied conflict between "citizen journalists" and "journalists", one that I just don't think exists.
July 26, 2005
Sorry for the lack of written posts at the moment. I'm a touch buy working my way through the wedding photos I shot the week before last, catching up on a writing project that resurfaced recently, and getting to grips with work blogging.
Normal service will be resumed by the weekend, but I'll keep the photos coming in the meantime.
July 25, 2005
July 23, 2005
On my coffee-fuelled blogrounds, onionbagbloger made me laugh this morning. Yesterday, the newspapers were trying to sell us on the idea of a city gripped by fear. The Independent was particualrly guilty of this, with a sensationalist cover that was almost worthy of a tabloid. BBC reporters were scurrying around trying to get people to admit that they were terrified. Except, they weren't.
It's nice to see blogs doing such an excellent job of conveying the real feeling on the ground.
July 22, 2005
Today has been a funny day. Alerts here and there. A shooting in Stockwell. A fortnight ago, the activity was contained in a day. This week, it bled out into the following day, and is likely to continue for a few days yet. The faces of four wanted would-be bombers glared at you from every copy of the Evening Standard on the way home. We know what they look like, but not who they are or where they are. The hunt is on.
Yet, somehow it feels distant from me. It's on the TV. It's happening in tube stations a distance away from me. It's off camera, and reported. It feels like a movie, because it's barely touched my life today. Life went on: writing, editing, talking and blogging. I commuted to work and back. I went to Oxford Street shopping at lunchtime, and it was packed.
Yet, elsewhere, there's a struggle going on. A hunt. A flight. And, unlike a movie, lives really are at stake.
July 21, 2005
July 20, 2005
On and off, over the last few weeks, Lorna has been on stage at the ICA. This wasn't the result of some sudden outbreak of thespian talent, but rather part of a science/art crossover project called Genes Talking.
I finally did my dutiful husband bit and turned up to see her at work in the ICA theatre on Monday. I was impressed.
To be frank, my history with the ICA isn't great. In my days as a student film and theatre reviewer, I remember spending some excruciating nights at the place, watching art that I lacked the context or desire to appreciate.
This was different. The explanation of the science at work was clear, concise and comprehensible. The contrast between the black walls and the bright white of the lab equipment gave the feeling of people working at the edge of knowledge, even if the effect was, according to the organiser, entirely unintentional. This was good stuff: contemporary art I could relate to.
A double win: not only do I understand better what my wife does with her days back at her real lab, but I've also gained a new desire to see what else the ICA has coming up.
July 19, 2005
I have an almost pathological hatred of the phrase �political correctness gone mad�.It's one of those stock phrases people on the right of politics use to avoid engaging with the issues that are important to the left. But then, every now and again, something comes along which almost begs you to use the phrase, a temptation which I'm trying to avoid:
BBC NEWS | Education | Teachers say no-one should 'fail':
�Deferred success� should replace the idea of failure for low-achieving pupils, a teachers' organisation will hear at its annual conference.
The Professional Association of Teachers will be told next week the label of failure could undermine children's enthusiasm for school.
Some teachers seem to have lost sight of the fact that school's main purpose is not to teach kids information, it's to provide them with the skills they need to cope with the adult world. The adult world is littered with competition and failure. By depriving children of the chance to explore this in school, they're failing them. And that's a shame - and possibly far more than that for the kids.
July 18, 2005
I like digital music. I can find digital music. I was hopeless with CDs. I couldn't file them to save my life, and so I could never find the tune I wanted. With iTunes, that's just not a problem.
Which is all a rather long-winded way of pointing out that The Times is giving away five free iTunes tracks a week for the next eight weeks. The first week's give-away is here. Enjoy. (UK and Ireland only, I'm afraid.)
I've been too busy to blog for a few days. On Friday, I was playing wedding photographer for a couple of friends at the Middle Temple Hall in London, and the weekend was given over to home and marriage things. But I'm back. And I'd like to talk about sex.
There was an entertaining show on the Beeb last night, called Secrets of the Sexes. At time it slipped into clich�, but there was some fascinating information in there. For example, based on the relative sizes of my ring and index fingers, I know that my Mum deprived me of testosterone in the womb at about three months. Oh, and as a result I'll never be a great sprinter. (Mind you, at 33, I'm probably a bit old now.) I'm also likely to have poor hand-ey co-ordination - which might explain why I'm rubbish at computer games and never made the school cricket team.
However, the most interesting bit was the way people vary from the baseline of their sex. Based on the series of tests you can take on the BBC website, overall, I'm an absolutely average male. However, in a few places I'm extremely on the male side (bad on object-in-environment, great at conceptualising objects in 3D), and I have some hyper-femanine characteristics to balance them (very high empathy). Good stuff. Give it a try.
July 14, 2005
The lifts were in constant use. The stairs were the only way down to the street. In a quiet procession we made our way down, and forced our way across the road past the busy traffic. People were still chatting. On the street or in Red Lion Square? Will the traffic actually stop? How would we all know when it was time?
Then the buses started pulling in. One by one, they rounded the corner into Procter Street, and stopped by the side of the road. Some of the drivers got out and came to stand with the rest of us. Traffic died away. Some drivers slowed, uncertain, as they realised what was happening, before finally pulling in themselves.
A bizarre lack of sound finally descended over the city, allowing the cry of a gull flying overhead to be clearly heard.
Construction workers, journalists, lawyers, business people, shop staff. We stood for two minutes in silence, in though, in memory.
And then one car pulled away. The moment was broken, the two minutes over.
We filed back into our offices, back into the business of London.
July 13, 2005
London's slightly less noble side is slowly coming back into evidence. The streets of London are once more packed with cars during the mornings. Clearly, the threat of bombs on public transport outweighs the �8 a day congestion charge. Fair enough. But have these people given any thought to the extra 15 minutes journey time they're imposing on us using the buses? Of course not.
July 12, 2005
It appears that big, strong American soldiers are now afraid to go where tourists and commuters dare:
Personnel, most of them from US Air Force units at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, have been told not to go within the M25 motorway
So much for the solidarity Bush promised: "We stand with you, our allies, and by "with you" we mean a hundred miles away, just to be safe."
July 11, 2005
Perhaps the biggest sign of London's defiance in the wake of the bombing was the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who thronged the streets of London to commemorate the fact that 60 years had passed since the end of World War II. Just days after the bomb, fear of terrorism didn't keep them away.
July 9, 2005
Sorry for the rather dull nature of the last post, but given the large number of new people coming to this blog at the moment, and the attitude some of them are displaying, it seemed the right thing to do. At least everyone is now operating from a position of knowledge.
This is the comments policy for this blog. Read ye, and obey ye.
Rule 1: Feel free to disagree
Debate between people of differing views is one of the cornerstones of a functioning democracy. I love it. If you have a different view, share it!
Rule 2: Stay polite
This blog is the virtual equivalent of my front room. If somebody stood in my house being rude to my guests or I, I would ask them to leave. Same applies here. You can have different opinions from somebody else but still treat them with respect. That's the rule here. If you can't cope with this, come back when you've learned some basic manners.
Rule 3: No spam
This site does not accept unsolicited commercial comments or trackbacks. They will be deleted and you will be blacklisted.
Rule 4: Read to understand
This is a real hot button issue for me. Too many people see that person �a� has a view which is shared by political group �b�, and therefore assume person �a� believes everything political group �b� stands for. This is arrant nonsense. Believe it or not, we're all grown-ups here, and we don't have to be in someone's gang in the playground to feel socially secure.
Rule 5: Read with respect
Just having a different view from you doesn't make somebody a bad person or an idiot. In fact, assuming that just makes you a narrow-minded individual who is closing yourself to the richness of possible debate. I refer you back to Rule 1, of which this is just a special case, but one that bears repeating.
Greetings to the rather large numbers of Wired readers arriving here. If it's your first time here, I hope you find something interesting in the pictures and links here.
And, when you're done, can I recommend the onionbagblogger's excellent list of London reading resources as a next port of call?
July 8, 2005
I've linked to Casino Avenue a lot recently, and now I'm going to do so again, because the good Inspector is writing such excellent stuff.
This is one of the best responses to the attacks I've seen so far:
Others will take advantage too. The terrorists struck because they're scared of us in London. Scared of a city where we all mingle together, an old trading town where a good deal beats the colour of someone's skin or the identity of someone's God. The unthinking unity in our city - one we don't boast about, because it's part of all of our lives, is something that terrifies those who'd seek to rule us by racial or religious dogma.
Read the whole thing here.
It's easy to get carried away with defiance, or anger, or determination at a time like this, but it's important to bear in mind the most important people right now: those hurt by the blast.
The office is quiet today. Maybe 40% of the editorial team are in. One of the journalists has been to visit a friend who is in hospital. A significant chunk of one of his legs is missing and he may yet lose the leg. Hearing the story, and about the dead bodies on the platforms, is sobering in the extreme.
Behind the politics, behind transport problems, behind the photos and 24-hour news coverage and splash spreads in the paper are some very small, but oh-so-important human stories, of pain and loss and injury. Let's not forget them. Politics and media and defiance mean nothing if not for the people behind them.
Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.
Londoners consumed in the grip of panic. Or, in fact, not.
Oh, dear. What a way to start a lunch break. I really hoped we'd get a few day's grace before people started posting really stupid things about the London attacks. No. 24 hours later, the London Metblog produces this. (As an aside, it's pretty amusing to see someone posting this on an American-owned site, with American co-posters. But I digress.)
The poster displays a level of ignorance of the motivations behind the most likely perpetrators of this atrocity, that I seriously have to question if he has any interest in understanding the cultural and social politics behind this struggle. After all, it's much easier to blame everything on the Americans, isn't it?
If it was al-Qaeda, or a group set up on similar principles, they don't want to hurt us because we support America at a governmental level, they want to hurt us because we don't live our lives the way they tell us to. Sure, supporting America might have pushed us a little further up the hit list but, believe me, we'd have been there anyway.
I wasn't the only one to get attention, it seems:
Second, everyone pick up a copy of the USA Today tomorrow. I was interviewed by Mark Memmott today about the bombings and how that was affecting the blogsphere. Last I spoke with him, he wasn't sure yet whether or not the story was going to run, but if it is, it will be in tomorrow's paper (and online) and there may even be a picture of me (courtesy of Scott) in there, too. Either way, it was an interesting conversation
You can find the article here.
My photography yesterday seems to have attracted rather more attention than I expected. After all, it was mainly shot for friends and family. Here's a couple of stories that have popped up on the web already:
Adam Tinworth, a London magazine editor and freelance writer, posted several shots from his digital camera on the Internet. Among them: images of blockaded streets and of professionals �trying to do the same thing I was except with a much different camera.�
�I was grabbing photos to give people a feel of what it's like to be an ordinary person,� Tinworth said.
Adam Tinworth passed by an older couple this evening, standing by the side of the road, trying to figure out how to get home. �I haven�t caught a bus in years,� said the woman, �but I�m sure I could do it.�
�It�s strange,� says Adam, �when your city becomes a stereotype.�
Adam, who writes One Man & His Blog, lives in Lewisham, in southeast London. We caught up with him on the phone this afternoon to talk about a series of photographs he took in London today.
So, it's Friday. Yes, Lorna and I are going into work. Lorna's already left and I shall be going soon.
They won't win. London's been through worse than this before. This city won't be broken.
July 7, 2005
I set out for home at around 6.30pm, fully expecting the streets to be thronged with people walking home. I was wrong.
The staggered departure from London, with many people heading home from 4pm onwards seemed to have take the pressure off, and the streets were busy without being packed. As I approached London Bridge station, it was getting positively quiet.
Congratulations to Transport For London for getting the buses and trains running again so quickly.
The office is a strange place to be right now. We're only a few minutes away from one of the bomb locations and everyone's pretty twitchy. Small crowds occasionally gather around the big flat screen TV in reception, listening to the latest news and statements.
Some people are pressing on with the issue - it's press day for us. Other are surfing news or trying to contact friends. At least one member of the editorial team has a friend in hospital.
In the background, sirens are heard every few minutes.
It's grim, grim stuff.
Londonist is tracking the lastest news here.
Raw personal reaction from Smacked Face here.
July 5, 2005
There's a great post over on Storytellers Unplugged about the distinction between an author and a writer. This post is called I Do It For The Money:
Author: Person whose name is on a book cover.
Writer: Someone actively putting words down on the page.
I agree with pretty much everything she says here.
July 4, 2005
Yesterday, I rather cryptically mentioned that I wouldn't be writing about property and architecture on this blog anymore.
To understand why, we need to take a step backwards. During the day, I'm the features editor of Estates Gazette, a weekly magazine covering the commercial property magazine, and one of the biggest business magazines in the country. A couple of weeks ago, the executive editor of New Scientist, a stablemate to EG, turned up for a meeting with my editor. I was called into the meeting. Our publisher, Reed Business Information, was getting into blogging. Would I be interested in helping?
Silly question, really.
So, as of the weekend just gone, Reed's new site, full of blogs from the editors and senior staff of several business magazines, is live. It's called Bizbuzzmedia.
The reason that I won't be covering property and architecture here any more is that I'll be doing it on company time, for a company blog. The EG Blog is born. Go visit.
This site has just had something of a service, with a quick update to the latest version of Movable Type and the installation of MT-Blogroll to manage the links on the right. Hopefully this, and a few other things I've done, should solve a few long-standing niggles with the back end of the site.
If you come across any problems, feel free to mail me.
Freaky co-incidence time. Last Thursday, One Woman and I went to Epsom races as guests of Drivers Jonas. We had a very fine evening and came home having made a small but pleasing profit on the evening's better (mostly on the back of Lorna's acumen in these things).
Rather spookily, it turns out that Inspector Sands of Casino Avenue was there that very evening, too. Blimey. We were in the posh corporate stand, and he was in the all-comers grandstand, of course, but sounds like we all had a good evening.
July 3, 2005
Incidentally, the last entry may well be the last "Property & Architecture" post on this blog for a while.
This is good news, trust me.
More details tomorrow.
John Massengale makes a compelling argument for the extension of congestion charging to New York:
Why do we allow millions of New Yorkers to be inconvenienced and poisoned by a small number of drivers who would rather sit in traffic jams in their own cars than take public transport or a taxi?
He goes on to argue for a reassignment of space on NYC's avenues with photos. Well worth a look.
July 2, 2005
There's an interesting piece over on Boing Boing about the subject of a candid street photo suing the photographer who exhibited and sold the image.
British law traditionally dictates that you have no rights to your own image if the photo is shot from public ground. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.