July 2006 Archives
July 31, 2006
July 28, 2006
Another fine piece of work from our noble tax-supported civil servants:
Never mind what Benjamin Franklin said about there being only one thing in life that was certain--death and taxation. You can't even rely on that any more. It seems that the chances of catching a road tax dodger is just one-in-forty according to a recent Whitehall watchdog report. Apparently there are 1.55 million untaxed vehicles in britain and the number of people not paying their Vehicle Excise Duty is still increasing.
So that's nice. We're funding a big old department in Swansea, who not only managed to miss 1.55m people, while catching a tiny fraction of that number? Sounds like money well spent, doesn't it?
But, in recognition of the move towards a screen-based world, she says much of her energy is devoted to trying to apply magazine brands to new media.
They are vulnerable for many reasons - they often serve sectors and audience niches that may be better able to serve themselves via online communities. Some depend on classified job ads for a great deal of their revenue (a business which is easily distintermediated by the web) and their legacy infrastructure, their commitments to print based business models can make it hard for them to move quickly enough to take advantage of the fast-evolving online media world.
He is, of course, quite right. These are going to be testing times for trade media, but very exciting ones, too. (Of course, I'm a bit of a change junkie. Other people's views may differ...)
Jeff Jarvis suggests that the video below shows that journalists have no sense of humour.
Certainly, they've completely failed to get the point here. I was channel-hopping last night, trying to build up the energy to shift myself from the too hot sofa to the too hot bedroom, when I found a show on BBC4 about the history of the Tory party. It had a clip of Winston Churchill, in his swimming trunks, no less, sliding down a water slide into a swimming pool. It was a strangely touching moment, a little glimpse into the man behind the image, from an age when the press was far more deferential than it is now. I don't think returning to a deferential attitude would do anyone any good, but an interest in who our politicians are beyond the obvious prurient interest in sexual misdemeanours, would engage people in politics a little more.
There seems to be a mindset amongst journalists and politicians at the moment that politics is Serious, and should be treated in a Serious way at all times. The truth, of course, is that politics, like all human endeavour, has its fun side and its serious side, and the media should really be reflecting both.
We seem to have developed an idea that the route to serious, professional journalism is to conceal the human within the journalist at all times. Blogging, thankfully, is starting to erode that edifice.
July 27, 2006
It's just been pointed out to me that this site hasn't been displaying correctly in Internet Explorer. That should now be fixed. Sorry about that.
(Isn't it time you got Firefox, though?)
July 26, 2006
Here's a post from YPulse, a blog which tracks the interests of Generation Y, which should send chills down the expensive suit-clad backs of magazine publishers everywhere:
I was pretty surprised when I received an alert that Teen People was going out of print, just as I was when the news about Elle Girl dropped weeks ago. Surprised yet not so surprised once I thought about it. This must have sent chills down the spines of staffers at Seventeen, CosmoGirl, Teen Vogue, etc. The writing has been on the wall for some time in terms print magazines and this generation of �totally wired� teenagers. Go digital. Go mobile
Teenagers are only reading magazines with an online presence. And sometimes not even then.
What does that mean for us in business publishing when they enter the workplace? It means we had better be ready for them.
My blogroll is back in place on the right hand side of the main page, updated and polished for the new era�
The Farmers Weekly podcast interview with David Cameron feels like it should have got more publicity than it did, if only for the revelation that Cameron grows cucumbers outside his kitchen window. It's a nicely-done, fairly relaxed piece, recorded in the back of Cameron's car on the way to the Royal Show.
Hang on, shouldn't it have been done on the back of his bike?
[Disclosure: this is another bit of �employer pimping�, but only because I genuinely liked it]
More and more publishers of all stripes, it seems, are growing slightly uncomfortable with the growing power of Google over what gets read and what doesn't. Two very different takes on the situation flowed into my RSS reader this morning:
- Sean Bonner, of Metroblogging fame, questions the arbitrary nature of Google News selections.
- On the Travolution blog, Graham Donoghue worries at the changes in the way Google rates landing pages [disclosure: Travolution is published by my employer, RBI]
Google, for all its coolness and �don't be evil� ethos, is becoming as secretive and closed as that cooler tech firm, Apple. However, Apple is pretty much just a minor player in the PC market, while Google rules the web.
After a week and a half commuting through south London in my trusty car, I have made the following observations:
- "Mirror, signal, manoeuvre" appears to have been replaced by "manoeuvre, mirror, (optional) signal"
- The correct response to any form of hesitation on the road is to immediately overtake. This is doubly true if there's a bus involved.
- The car is the best place to do your make-up, especially if you're the driver
- The correct form when stepping out from between stationary traffic into oncoming traffic is to ignore the car frantically doing an emergency stop to avoid reducing you to a fine, unobservant paste, until the very last minute. Then, you freeze like a rabbit in headlights, before laughing and carrying on across the road.
Despite all this, it's still more enjoyable that taking the train into central London.
July 25, 2006
You know, lovely as it to be able to get a great sandwich or a cup of coffee in a garage, sometime you just want something to clean your windscreen with. And these new convenience store-style operations make that really, really hard.
I needed some screen wipes to help cleanse my car of the shattered corpses of dozens of insects that were just too slow. Could I find them? No. Eventually I broke down and asked a member of staff for some held, and he pointed me to a tiny shelving unit hidden away by the tills. And there it was: a small selection of driving paraphernalia, including engine oil and screen wipes.
If petrol stations have stopped selling this stuff, where do people buy it? Do they all go to Halfords? Or do they just leave it to the car wash and the guy that services the car?
Penelope Trunk has done a nice piece about today's blogging and the effect it might have on your recruitment prospects in the future:
The people entering the workforce today did not grow up posting every little thing that happened to them. But in five years, those kids coming to work will have no way to cleanse the Internet of their posting transgressions from when they were fifteen years old.
There will have to be new standards for what is okay to have online. It will have to be okay to say, �Oh, yeah. I remember when I posted that. Stupid, huh?� Interviewers will have to judge people by what they are doing right now, or else they won't be able to hire anyone.
Well worth reading the whole thing.
July 24, 2006
Technorati turned 3 today, and has celebrated with a brand new look. It's a useful site for tracking what's going on in the blogosphere, but it has some frustrating quirks. For example, one of the things that drove my chance of URL a little while back was its insistence that the http://www.onemanandhisblog.com site hadn't been updated for months - clearly not true. The same thing seems to be happening to Brian's blog.
Still, I won't object if anyone adds me to their Technorati favorites by clicking here�
July has been an interesting month for people interested in serious blogging in the UK. Why? Well, blogging's really started to hit the national media consciousness. It all started a couple of weeks ago with pieces in The Observer and The Guardian's media supplements about the John Prescott sleaze storm, much of which stemmed from the Guidio Fawkes blog.
However, it took a fortnight for the interest in that story to leak from the Media pages into the mainstream news, with a blonde blogger's sacking helping it along the way. Let's track the progress:
One of the questions exercising the rare and precious few brain cells I posess is �what's in it for blogging editors?�. Here's a rather handy answer:
I was reading this morning that the editor of a teenager magazine in Australia started a blog last year. And now, Dolly magazine�s editor Bronwyn McCahon relies on her blog, and not on her web site, to maintain strong ties with her community of 14-to-17-year-old readers. And as readers wanted more interactivity, she added SMS and other mobile ways to continue to grow this community. But read more�
You can do just that at the original post, Do we need multi-screen strategies?
July 23, 2006
Been a little while since I did a gratuitous photo project, so here's one from Friday. Thanks to a screw-up on the M25, I spent loads of time queueing on the A25, so I took the opportunity to get a few unusual grabs. As ever, click the images for larger version.
July 22, 2006
So, 100 people account for most of the Digging on Digg. No wonder that Jason Calacanis is offering to pay the best recommenders on Netscape.
These are the new journalists, folks. They're being paid (or are about to be) paid for sifting through the dross out there and pointing us to the best of it. That's what magazines with product sections often do. That's what magazines whose news stories rarely come �off dairy� do.
There will always be room for good, investigative news writing and great, informative and entertaining feature writing. But the dross around the edges will be quickly and cheaply killed off by this sort of aggregation-and-selection process. And that's a challenge.
Anton La Guardia, The Telegraph's diplomatic editor and one of its earliest bloggers, is leaving to join The Economist. He's taking his blog with him, or so he says. He's actually taking his blog �home� to Blogspot. Pity he chose Blogspot, rather than Typepad or Wordpress.com, which offer richer feature sets and Trackbacks. It's a pity The Economist didn't offer him a blog.
But it's reassuring that he sees blogging as important enough to carry on with.
July 21, 2006
The lone authorised Apple Centre in Beirut, Lebanon, has been forced to shut its doors since the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah ignited a week ago. And that store faces an uncertain future, as its owner prepares to flee the fighting.
Which just goes to prove that you can find a niche angle on anything.
Of course, whether you should or not is another question.
Technorati Tags: journalism
July 20, 2006
The more interesting part of the Petite Anglais story, to me at least, is that a Telegraph blogger ended up breaking the story, because of his blog-based interaction with her.
As I said before, I'm surprised by how well The Telegraph's bloggers are doing in interacting with the wider blogging world. Well done to them.
Ah, here we go again; another blogger sacked:
A British secretary allegedly sacked from her job in Paris over an internet diary is the latest in a growing line to pay a heavy price for blogging.
Catherine - who blogged anonymously under the pseudonym �Petite Anglaise� about life, love and work - has now launched a test case under French employment law.
She claims she was dismissed from accounting firm Dixon Wilson for bringing the company into disrepute, despite never naming it in her diary. The firm has not commented.
I read a few Petite Anglais posts a few years ago. It didn't catch my attention; well, written, yes, but another one of those �bitch about my life behind the thin veil of anonymity the internet offers� blogs. They worked well, when most people didn't know what blogs are, and next to nobody read them. Now they're moving into the mainstream, this sort of public confession of personal life pain is going to become harder and harder as employers start putting two and two together. Anonymity is going to be harder and harder to keep as people get more and more blog savvy.
Your ability to survive in a blogger doing this sort of thing is going to drive you down one of two paths: fictionalising your experiences so thoroughly that no easy connection can be drawn, or hiding the bitching behind a privacy feature that the likes of Livejournal or Vox offer.
She's suing, but I'll be surprised if she wins.
July 18, 2006
While I'm in a �reality check� frame of mind, this post from Strumpette is worth reading.
Exposing the Communist Blogifesto:
Excuse me, businesses don�t really want �relationships� with their customers. It's too expensive, it's too messy and the return is nominal at best. Not even the most prolific hooker wants a personal relationship. Our job is to anticipate needs/wants/desires and then present clients with something special. If I did my homework, I will be rewarded; if not, I will be punished. The money is on the dresser. End of transaction.
Do we really want �I'm not buying from them anymore� to be our only means of influencing businesses? Or is that more than enough for most customers?
A nice hype-pricking guide to the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Most of it comes down to �how are you gonna make money, buddy?�, though, and I remain amazed at how the internet blinds certain people to the need to get paid, pay the rent and buy food.
[via Lo�c Le Meur]
Technorati Tags: web 2.0
July 17, 2006
Apologies to anyone who tried to comment on here with Typekey in the last few days. It wasn't working, but all is now fixed. It appears that I had a bad case of absent trailing slashes.
Don't you hate it when that happens?
Here's a word of advice: if you haven't done a particular commuting route in nine years, don't assume you'll be able to do it again straight off. Yes, today I drove from my sunny Lewisham residence to my new office in Sutton. I'm not a fan, ethically speaking, of commuting by car, but when confronted with the choice between a 90 minute commute on public transport and a 50 minute commute by car, I'm afraid there's not much in it. As ever, if you want to get people out of their cars, you need to provide the public transport that allows them to do so. And, too often, practical transport's just not there.
I've no idea how the driving will change my life. I'm going to miss the reading time, I suspect, but will be better at keeping up with my podcasts. Beyond that? We'll see.
July 16, 2006
July 14, 2006
I must get in the habit of reading The Telegraph's blog. They're posting some really interesting stuff out there, and The Guardian's role as beloved newspaper of the blogiosphere sometimes obscures that. Take this post, about writing headlines just to get featured on Digg, the �vote for stories you like� news site:
I learned a new word this week: diggbait. A story that panders so closely to the prejudices and interests of Digg.com users, something about the failings of Windows XP, for example, or the success of Firefox, that it seems to have been written specifically with them in mind. Having seen the traffic that can come from a link halfway down a popular page, it�s a tempting thought.
In other words �journalist writes headline to attract readers�. What's wrong with that? Well, the obvious answer is that the subsection of the public who are active voters on sites like this are suspicious of manipulation and you really don't want to upset them if you want to take advantage of the site. So, where does the line between the skill of attracting readers through good headline and just fishing for links lie?
I suspect Diggbaiters will find out pretty quickly.
[Hat Tip: Open]
Good way of tracking your RSS traffic by linking your Feedburner feed and your Movable Type installation
It's talking about the technology world, rather than the wider B2B community, but interesting none-the-less.
July 13, 2006
Hurrah. It all works.
A couple of things to note about the new-look site:
1. The archive menu on the right has been replaced by a drop down list. With something like 40 months of blog entries behind me here, that's much more user-friendly.
2. Right at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar, you'll see a list of headlines from my Vox blog, which will keep you up to date with personal goings-on in my life, if you care about such things.
If you're reading this, I've successfully upgraded the site to the final release of the new version of Movable Type, 3.31.
If not, well.�
July 11, 2006
So, now Movable Type has a tag set-up. How very interesting.I wonder how it integrates with Technorati, if at all. Am I going to have to much around with my templates?
Yes, this is just an entry to test tagging. Thanks for asking.
July 10, 2006
Interesting how quickly things pass. Some implications there for weeklies and monthlies
A useful resource for pre-warning new bloggers in new communities
The BBC has chosen the winner of its web design contest - and the winner's design features plenty of community features. Interesting.
If this post appears, I've successfully upgraded this site to the release candidate of Movable Type 3.3.
If not, I've a frustrating few hours ahead�
July 7, 2006
A couple of new, interesting blogs launched by people I know.
Fraser Spiers, author of the invaluable FlickrExport iPhoto plugin-in, has taken a new job as computing teacher and general IT bod in a Scottish school. He's chronicling his experiences in Teaching 2.0.
Check them out.
I've just observed two minute's silence to remember the 52 people killed when four young men strapped bombs to themselves and set out on London's public transport a year ago.
Today, a year on, things were much as normal. More police at tube and train station perhaps. A slight air of pensiveness about some travellers, certainly. But the city still functions. For most of us, life goes on. Two minutes to remember those whose lives were ended so early, so prematurely seems little enough a sacrifice.
Some of my Posts from last July
July 6, 2006
The poster child for the growth in video podcasting (or video blogging, or vlogging, or whatever you want to call it) is in trouble. Rocketboom's presenter, writer and producer Amanda Congdon appears to have had a serious falling out with her partner on the site, Andrew Baron, as her most recent posts explain.
Business Week has a good analysis of Rocketboom's financial situation. Business 2.0 examines the phenomenon of a business problem being conducted in public, which is an interesting development in its own right. And Jason Calacanis of AOL-owned Weblogs Inc has made a very public job offer.
Whoa. It's interesting that not only do the public feel enough of an ownership of Rocketboom that they're discussing this so much, as the Technorati Tag page shows, but the people involved feel that they can do business in such a public way, too. There's a fine line between transparency and washing your dirty laundry in public, and I'm not sure which side of the line this business is on yet.
But it sure is entertaining.
Well, well, well. Everyone's favourite outgoing Prime Minister has started podcasting via his constituency's local paper, the Northern Echo.
Sadly, it's a one-off effort, marking the launch of the paper's podcasting efforts, which aren't live just yet.
[via Podcasting News]
Things, they are a-changing. Not quite sure how much I can say publicly right now, but my work situation is going through a transformation, for at least a little while. As a result, content here will probably increase a little, but will change in nature. You're less likely to get general ramblings about my life and you're more likely to get focused comments on, well, stuff. Nice and precise there, you'll notice.
Anyway, if you are interested in general ramblings about my life, you'll find that over on my Vox blog. If you want an invite to comment and see some of the protected posts, leave a comment below and I'll let you have one. Probably.
July 5, 2006
July 4, 2006
Netscape served as the midwife at the birth of Web 1.0. Now, in what would be a lovely ironic twist, it may be the undertaker at the burial of the Web 2.0 hype.
The gist of the article is this: Netscape has reinvented itself as a news voting site, like the trendy Digg, allowing readers to select which stories are the most important by voting for them. The general public, it seems, are less keen on the idea that the technophiles who frequent the site that provided "inspiration" for Netscape's move.
July 3, 2006
I've been watching the US reaction to the movie by Al Gore (the man who sorta lost an election to George W. Bush) about climate change - An Inconvenient Truth - with interest. I'm especially enjoying this animated response to it from the guys who did Futurama:
[via The Medium is Not Enough]
July 2, 2006
Heat exhaustion and dehydration are the main threats to health when temperatures are high, and those at risk are being warned to keep out of the sun.
The warning, issued by the Department of Health, applies to London, the South East and the West Midlands.
That's it folks, keep drinking water! Which is in short supply!