September 2006 Archives
September 30, 2006
So, Tory leader David Cameron is blogging.
Seems that he underestimated the demand a touch:
UPDATE: OK, it's working now. And, well, it's a bit lame. There's something about the desperate chumminess of the �look, I'm an ordinary bloke with a family� about the videos that doesn't ring true. If something like this had cropped up along the way, it would have been charming. Up front, it looks too calculated.
Still, nice to see a party leader doing it.
September 28, 2006
September 26, 2006
Blogging has been wonderful for newspapers. It unshackles reporters from just delivering facts. They can now show who they are as people through the expression of opinions.
Although, to be fair, it does terrify some, who dislike the idea of readers being able to respond directly to their work or who might force the journalists into a conversation. For those who do get the idea of interaction, it's a really invigorating experience.
However, blogging is the first in a series of dominoes that have to fall for the newspaper to thrive in a world where the reader rules - and tells everyone so.
The reader has always ruled, though. Most of the time, though, she's only had the ultimate sanction: not putting her cash on the table. Now, though, we're entering an age where the reader can participate easily in the debates that shape the print product and be an active creator in the online product. And, for journalists who enjoy interacting with their readers, these should be very exciting time.
Pity that's not all journalists, isn't it?
September 25, 2006
Today is a strange day. Today is the sort of day where I need two strong cups of black coffee, just to function. (The lady in the coffee shop here starts making me a strong, black Americano as soon as she spots me in the queue.) Today is the sort of day where I find myself linking to The Sun.
Why? Because Jeremy Clarkson's account of his collegue Richard Hammond's recovery from an insanely high-speed car crash is a work of pure genius:
In the wee small hours of Thursday night, just 30 hours after what is almost certainly the world�s fastest ever car crash, Richard Hammond suddenly sat up in bed, opened his eyes and asked what had happened.
�You�ve been in a car accident,� I said. �Was I driving like a tw*t?� he asked, before getting out of bed and walking, shakily, to the lavatory.
Go on, read the rest.
September 24, 2006
Lee High Road has been eerily quiet this afternoon. A gas leak has closed the road, and the normal queuing traffic replaced by peace, birdsong and the chatting of pedestrians.
We use our cars far too much.
September 23, 2006
No blogging today, because I've been too busy gardening.
I gardened until the sun set. Hardcore!
Technorati Tags: gardening
September 22, 2006
I'm not normally one for posting those �meme�s that do the rounds, but I found the results of this one rather interesting:
|You Are 48% Capitalist, 52% Socialist|
Wealth and business is fine, as long as those who are in need get helped out too.
You tend to see both the government and corporations as potentially corrupt.
The little text at the bottom described how I feel pretty exactly
Dan Sabbagh makes an interesting suggestion in a piece in The Times about political bloggers:
The big political bloggers are now receiving regular tip-offs � often from journalists unable to get the story in question into their own newspaper or bulletin.
It's notable that pretty much all of our national newspapers have a political agenda of their own. Is this the first sign of journalists starting to rebel against this? Even if it isn't, it's a whole new twist on the bloggers versus journalists debate.
I confess: a have a weakness for musical humour, and �Weird Al� Yankovic's parodies in particular.
Thus, this video makes me very happy indeed. And that's good on a wet Friday afternoon.
September 19, 2006
Over on Lawrence Lessig's blog, there's an interesting account of a traditional media mag � Autoweek � completely failing to �get it� in the internet age. Why? They grabbed a photo from the internet and used it in the mag, without paying the author. And they got found out.
Really, any editor stupid enough to think that they can just grab internet images and use them in the mag without any form of contact with the photographer, as appears to be the case here, is playing with fire. I hope Autoweek pays up, or gets burnt.
Here's a fun article with some insight into modern journalistic life:
Modern newspaper editors don't have time to read the newspaper; they spend their days in lengthy ''brainstorming'' sessions with other editors wherein they try to decide what to do about the Internet.
Oh, how very, very true that is.
Avast there, ye scurvy dogs! Pay heed, or ye will fell the kiss o'the cat o'nine tails!
Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day!
September 18, 2006
Anthony's post deconstructs the good and the bad about the revamp so well, that I'm just going to send you there rather than rabbeting on about it myself.
Ah, there's nothing like potential public humiliation to motivate you, is there? Jackie Danicki is on a health drive, and to help motivate herself, she's blogging the process on Health Kick.
As I'm in the beginnings of a nascent health kick myself (and the eight flights of stairs up to my desk in business development hurt, l assure you), you might just find me following her example.
Once I arrived at work this morning, Anthony mentioned that he's heard a piece on blogging on the radio this morning. I must confess, I listen to Today on Radio 4 a lot less than I used to, mainly because we got rid of the bedside clock radio I had on my side table. A baleful orange light illuminating the whole room is not conducive to a full night's sleep. So, I tuned in to the report on Listen Again and there, surprise, surprise was Ian Dale. It seems that to be a famous blogger in the UK right now, you have to be into politics, like Ian and Guido, or sex, like Belle or The Girl. (However, her real identity's exposure in The Sunday Times is a cautionary tale for people wanting to follow that route).
However, it's interesting to see that Ian is starting to take on the roles that a conventional magazine would, if it was covering political blogging, with supplements and awards. It's proved an extremely lucrative route for old media, so why not for new media, too?
Depressing news from the Man from Catford:
No so encouraging news of the week. Forty-eight of Lewisham's 50 GP practices are officially unfit for purpose because they do not meet Department of Health guidelines. This is only three less than the worst area in the country, the Heart of Birmingham.
Still, not long until we move away from the area.
September 15, 2006
Lorna, my wife, has a theory that we're in a very tight window of opportunity where computer and web familiarity is an advantage to you in the workplace. From there we'll rapidly move to a situation where lack of it is a crippling disadvantage (if we're not there already) and finally to a phase when it's just the norm.
After that, we swing back to real world social skills being a major competitive advantage.
This is all interesting in the context of the campaign launched by The Daily Telegraph this week - Hold on to Childhood - calling on us to protect our offspring's time as children, which is being eroded by the way we're structuring society. Daniel Finkelstein of The Times had a fairly predictable pop at the idea on Comment Central, and The Telegraph's Ben Fenton mounted a decent defence of the paper's forward-looking approach to technology on his blog.
I can't help feeling that the ideas expressed here are backing up Dr Tinworth's theory rather nicely. Certainly, as Finkelstein argues, electronic toys are, on balance, good for children. But, unless kids get a more rounded experience of childhood, and the social education that comes with it, they're destined to a second-class position in the workplace and, quite possibly, in life.
Here's a couple of interesting job-related ideas I've stumbled across today.
First up, Business Blog Consulting points to a report on how blogs, podcasts and their ilk affect technology purchasing decisions. The answer seems to be �more than you'd expect�. 53% of respondents get business and technology information from blogs and while technology buyers are likely to lead the mainstream on this, it does suggest a general adoption of them as an information source. Good, good. I'd hate to think I was wasting my time�
The point is that this stuff is part of the weft and warp of these kids' lives. It will continue and strengthen through university and then what happens when they hit the 'real' world? Unless they're very fortunate or business wakes up more than it has so far, they're going to find it weird shoe-horning themselves into ineffective corporate behaviours.
And that day is only a couple of years away, at the outside. Is business and business infrastructure ready? Not yet.
�want[s] to once and for all figure out what this Heaven thing is supposed to be by looking into various religious concepts of it, discussing them and, because I am me, using logical thought to prove or disprove its existence.
History (and the history of theology) would suggest that she's set rather an ambitious goal for herself�
September 14, 2006
Stupidly busy. Let me distract you with this:
September 11, 2006
So, the Labour Party has announced the results of the competition to find its official blogger for this year's conference.
The winner is Jonathan Roberts who blogs at the snappily-named Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party Blog. And who doesn't allow comments on his blog. That fact alone should have disqualified him.
Remember the days when Labour wanted a Big Conversation? Those days are clearly gone. They wouldn't want the plebeian masses commenting on their official blogger's words, would they?
(Incidentally, I was going to link to the Big Conversation website, but it appear that Labour's we team let the domain lapse and fall into the hands of the spam linkers. Oh, dear.)
So, what do I return from my weekend away to find? Casino Avenue is closing down. Waaaay back in the day, this blog used to be much more focused on my area of south east London, and the good Inspector Sands was one of the small circle of blogs I interacted with regularly. My interests may have shifted, but I'm sad to see one of the most consistently entertaining and provoking blogs in London disappear. The city will be poorer for it, but, if he's not having fun, why should he bother? Thanks, Inspector, and good luck for the future.
Interesting, my referrer logs of late indicate that there's demand out there for a good Blackheath blog. Maybe one of the Inspector's local readers could step up to the plate?
Talking of my referrer logs (ah, such a smooth transition there), welcome PC Bloggs to the blogosphere. She joins the ranks of the anonymous police bloggers and I'm enjoying both her posts, insights and the steady stream of traffic she's sent my way...
Folks, I'm aware some comments have been munched by the system and never appeared on this blog. I've checked my settings, found the problems and all should be well again.
Apologies to anyone whose insights were munched by this�
September 8, 2006
Well, now I'm annoyed.
Ever since I heard about the casting of Daniel Craig as the brand new James Bond I've been preparing to hate the new movie, Casino Royale. I've already been composing the blog post in my head, bemoaning the fact that the move away from gadgets and to a �grittier� Bond was a mistake, a fundamental misunderstanding of the audience and an adolescent desire to apply seriousness to something that doesn't need it.
And then I saw the new trailer for the movie.
And it's really good. The cinematography looks interesting, the feel more �real� than old Bond, while still being true to the character, and, surprisingly, evoked immediately the original book Bond I spent many long weekend afternoons reading as a kid. As long as it's possible to view this as a new start for the Bond series, and not a continuation of a series, this could be a very enjoyable movie.
So, I've gone from prejudging a movie based on some casting news, a few quotes and lots of speculation, to prejudging it based on a short trailer and my love of visual style. And turned my opinion around 180� in the process
Blast. I hate it when that happens.
September 7, 2006
Ellee Seymour pointed me to an article by Michael Gove for the Times about the quality of blogs. His argument, which seems well-rooted in an understanding of the history of blogging is that quality will out. Many blogs, he argues, are doomed to obscurity:
But while the original weblogger was meant to have the skills of a great commonplace book editor, most blogs, it has to be admitted, are scarcely edited and just plain commonplace. Increasingly, blogs have become just the logs of what people happen to have done that day, unadorned diary entries, placed on the web. So many bloggers have become little more than electronic Adrian Moles or 21st-century Pooters, inclined to imagine that the minutiae of their daily lives is intrinsically interesting because it�s posted on the net.
Ellee disagrees with Gove:
That sounds a little harsh to me. I believe everyone should be entitled to have their own site and write what they like in their own style. It is personal to them, and the more Adrian Moles the better, particularly if it encourages more young people to write and enables people to let off steam. What might not interest you Michael, is probably fascinating to someone else. And most bloggers don�t want to be published by Waterstone�s.
I'm not sure he's being harsh, I think he's just misunderstanding what motivates people to blog. Sure, some people blog to be read by as many people as possible and, as a journalist-turned-politician, Gove is likely to see that as the primary motivation. Can you think of two more attention-seeking trades? But many people blog only to be read by a circle of family or friends. That's the thinking behind Vox, the new blogging platform from Six Apart, and I'm having a blast using it for that very purpose.
For blogs aiming for mass readership, sure, quality of writing, comment, analysis and wit will win out. For those blogging for a smaller, more personal audience, a whole different set of criteria will come into play.
As I seem to say endlessly, blogging is just another communication medium. There's more than one way of doing it.
This won't come as much of a shock to regular readers, but I was an over-serious child who thought about things far too much. The downside of that was getting the s**t kicked out of me by other kids at school. The upside is that I have good memories of all sorts of peculiar things from my childhood like, for example, my parents' attitudes to politics.
I remember very clearly my parents moving from delight when Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party was elected, which continued for four or five years, through growing worries, to final disillusionment. Or, as my Dad put it: �She was great when she started and now she's gone completely bonkers�.
Even as I celebrated Tony Blair's victory back in '97, a little voice in my head said �history will repeat itself�. And guess what? It was right. A party riven by in-fighting? Check. A leader attempting to hold on to power, even if doing so will damage the party? Check. An opposition in the ascendant once more? Check.
It's no wonder that even true followers of New Labour are finding the current situation hard to stomach.
I truly hope that Labour manages to resolve these problems quickly and move on, because I'd hate to see history repeat itself yet again, with the Conservatives with a massive majority and a weak, fragmented Labour unable to oppose them. I truly believe our democracy works better with a strong opposition not too far behind the ruling party in the polls.
Do you know what a Wiki is? I suspect most people who read this drivel do, even if the majority of the general public don't. But Wikis are, in theory, all about the general public: letting anyone edit a page of a website, on the basis that the wisdom of crowds will be greater than the wisdom of an individual.
To test this theory, a Wired News journalist put up an article on Wikis on a Wiki as an experiment to see how community participation could improve (or not) an article. He sums up the experience in The Wiki That Edited Me. Was it a success?
Is it a better story than the one that would have emerged after a Wired News editor worked with it?
I think not.
The edits over the week lack some of the narrative flow that a Wired News piece usually contains. The transitions seem a bit choppy, there are too many mentions of companies, and too much dry explication of how wikis work.
The conclusion - that Wikis are good tools for creating reference documents, but poor ones for creative the sort of narratives that journalism thrives on, isn't really a surprise. The journalist's job is just as much about shaping facts into a narrative as it is gathering those facts in the first place.
September 6, 2006
I'm a great fan of the concept of mobile working (as opposed to home working) because it suits me right down to the ground. I've done some of my best work in coffee shops, hotels and trains. Offices can be great places for human contact, but they can also be stifling to creativity.
September 5, 2006
The Times has a handful of blogs already, and has just launched a new one, Comment Central. It's interesting because the paper's comment editor is collecting the best comment from around the web and linking to it from his site. A national newspaper directly engaging with blogs like that? Very cool.
I do like the post exposing the government's split personality about chips.
As an aside, I also find it very interesting that The Times' blogs are hosted on Typepad and, as yet, they've done nothing to integrate them with the existing domain structure - something that's trivially easy to do with the service.
September 4, 2006
It's been an interesting few days for the UK political system and the web. On the positive side David �Dave� Cameron is blogging his trip to India.
The video on the blog reinforces the idea that he's going for an approachable, ordinary bloke image:
Still, a few policies might be nice, too, Dave. how about it?
Meanwhile David Millibland's latest venture onto the web - a wiki - has had to be taken down because it was defaced. It's a shame really. It was an interesting idea, but launching it at a time when the current government is rapidly reaching the nadir of its popularity was probably naive.
September 2, 2006
September 1, 2006
Interesting look at how society and business models are developing in games.