October 2006 Archives
October 30, 2006
Sometimes a break can let you see things with new eyes. I haven't commuted into or out of London by train for over three months now, and a blessed change it's been. However, today an appointment in London in the morning and one in Sutton in the afternoon necessitated me abandoning the car and commuting by train once more.
My goodness, what an eye-opener it was. After nine years of train commuting, I'd got used to it. After a short break, I saw it with new eyes. I saw the utter filth of London Bridge station. I saw the people crushed into cattle trucks. I smelt the fast food and the perfume and the body odor all mingling in an unpleasant aroma cocktail. I saw people struggling to get though a tiny platform exit on Lewisham station.
London has been described as the heart of the country's economy, pumping its fiscal blood around the nation. If that's the case, then the country has heart disease. Its arteries are clogged, unable to cope with the demands placed on them.
No care is being taken of the heart's health, and that lack of care is reflected in simple cleanliness. We Londoners are well known for our stiff upper lips, for putting up with things. But I do feel that that tolerant nature is being abused, and will continue to be abused unless we stand up and demand the sort of transport system we deserve.
October 27, 2006
I've had a rather large number of tabs open in Firefox for two days now, waiting for me to get around to blogging about them. You know what? It's not going to happen. And so, inspired by the good Mr Micklethwait, I'm going to roll them into one big post and let you go away and enjoy them over the weekend.
First up is this rambling, but entertaining, review of the BBC's Jane Eyre and Robin Hood by Andrew Rilstone. I spend hours telling people that blog posts should be short and frequent, and then Andrew goes and demonstrates that the opposite works too. Bah. And, indeed, humbug.
Wordblog takes a look at UK national newspaper blogs, and finds them wanting. He's right in that there are some gems and clunkers out there, but how is that different from any other group of blogs you care to name? Perhaps the point is that, as they're written by professional journalists, the average quality should be higher than it is. But changing someone's working mindset is no easy task.
Robert Scoble proposes that we need to start measuring a website's traffic in a new way: by their level of engagement. In many ways, the current system of measuring "hits" and "unique visitors" is mired in the print past, where we could measure how many copies were sold, but not how well read they were. TV has something approaching this, with its audience appreciation figures, but it's even more important in an online world where people are actively doing stuff on websites, nut just reading them.
Simom Robinson tears into the US subsidy of biofuels and the potential harm it's doing to the environment over on the Big Biofuels Blog. [Full disclosure: this is one of the blogs I'm helping set up for my employer. I'm only plugging it because I found the story interesting, though. And the blog is very much in beta. Things like a blogroll and a nice design will come.]
Dave Winer's idea for an Old Girlfriend Query tool shows more understanding of the way people actually use the web than I've seen in a long time.
Roy Greenslade's report on Tunisia's spat with Qatar over Al-Jazeera reminds me of the sheer level of fear of an Islamic revolution that many Tunisians seemed to have when we were over there on holiday last year.
And finally, I couldn't resist this:
October 26, 2006
October 25, 2006
I'm back in London and back at work after what has been a very difficult few days. Expect normal posting to commence today or tomorrow.
October 21, 2006
Not sure how much I'll be blogging over the next few days. My Mum's off to hospital for an operation, so I'm likely to be distracted. So, things may be quiet for a week or so.
October 17, 2006
Business 2.0 journalists being paid to blog
More on the journalists being paid to blog.
What replaces the local reporter?
The New York Times embeds a YouTube video...
October 16, 2006
Of course, that's not to say that bloggers won't replace some journalists. Are you sure your copy is good enough for people to choose you over a blogger? 100% sure? You'd better be.
What's life like for British Bloggers in the early 21st Century? History Matters aims to find out tomorrow, by compiling a blog of posts by people all over the UK on one day: tomorrow. On October 17th, it's inviting people to submit a blog post about their day, which will be stored in the British Library as part of an archive of British life called One Day in History. It's an interesting idea, and I'll be giving it a go. Anyone else?
[Hat tip: Ellee Seymour]
Amazing what you can find in your mother-in-law's back garden.
October 14, 2006
Not often that I get the chance to shoot models...
I'm at Salon International, a major exhibition for the hairdressing business, helping launch the Hairdressers Journal Blog, the first major blog launch from RBI since this stuff became my job. Check it out for more pics from the show.
October 12, 2006
October 11, 2006
On a similar theme to my last post, Web Worker Daily has a slightly sinister photo of laptops users in a coffee shop.
A whole new meaning to "together alone" there...
This is a familiar idea. In fact, it's been something of an obsession for me since I ran an article in Estates Gazette on the idea of coffee shops becoming the new offices for mobile workers nearly three years ago. But lately, my thinking has been turning on its head. Why are these places more conducive to writing than more conventional work environments? I certainly find it easier to do any form of writing in a coffee shop, or on a train, or on a sofa, than I do in my work or home office.
What's the psychology of that, and how could we use it to improve our work environments?
October 10, 2006
The domain name screw-up that hit Podshow yesterday seems to have had worse implications than I expected. Over 24 hours after I spotted there was a problem, I still can't get the latest episodes of the Daily Source Code and Geekbrief TV.
It looks like the various subdomains the Podcast Delivery Network runs off are still hosed in some way, and most podcatchers are getting confused by it. iTunes certainly can't find the shows.
This is bad news for Podshow. Why? Well, as best I can make out, they partner with podcast creators, with the creators doing the actually making of the podcasts, and Podshow handling delivery (through the PDN) and monetising it, through selling ads and sponsorship. The two groups then share the revenue. The longer delivery of the podcasts stays down, the more Podshow is failing to uphold its end of the bargain.
October 9, 2006
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., October 9, 2006 - Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG)
announced today that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer
media company for people to watch and share original videos through a
Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction.
Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to
preserve its successful brand and passionate community.
This does rather beg the question �what happens to Google Video?� Does the firm really need two video sharing platforms? Of course, Yahoo runs Yahoo Photos alongside Flickr, so there's a precedent. Whether they chose to keep it or not, for now Google owns the online video market.
Accustomed brilliance from Brian Micklethwait:
It has taken me quite a while to get used to the idea that, in the Age of Google, if you have a question, you can quickly find an answer. It�s like being a small boy again, only this time when you shout �Why?!?!?!� (or whatever) at your mother, your mother is the Internet, and it knows, and it can tell you in seconds.
However, it's a lot less likely to cook your dinner and iron your shirts for you�
Looks like they forgot to renew their domain name:
Kinda ironic, given that Go Daddy is one of their sponsors�
UPDATE: As of 2.20pm UK time, it's all working again.
UPDATE 2: Mr Curry podcasts about the problem in the latest Daily Source Code
October 8, 2006
This is my favourite time of the morning. It's not long after 9am, and the rest of the family are still in bed. I've sneaked downstairs, leaving Lorna asleep in bed, and am enjoying that time when you have the wakeful parts of the house to yourself.
I've lived alone - this is different. Somehow being up and knowing that the little period of quiet and solitude you have will soon be broken but not knowing quite when that will be, is what makes this so precious.
And now my coffee is nearly ready.
October 6, 2006
Ugh, Very tired, after a long, hard week with too many early starts - and I still have a long drive ahead of me tonight.
However, I don't want to let the working week finish without making a point: people in the blogosphere are often far too quick to say that mainstream media journalists "don't get it" and are going to be made obselete. You know what? Journalists are just people. Some people are brighter and more intuitive than others.
And I know some fun, bright people.
More on this next week. For now, here's the weekend!
Technorati Tags: journalism
October 5, 2006
1. The staff at the local BP garage here in Sutton clearing away the barbecue stuff from out the front. Summer's officially over, folks.
2. A round table discussion day where around 40% of those present had laptops open and in use through most of the day. This is just gonna get more and more common.
3. A young, attractive woman in a sports car assiduously squeezing her spots in the rear view mirror while queuing at traffic lights.
Been far too busy to think of anything else to post...
October 4, 2006
And so, off to the Dana Centre in Kensington for a performance of Randomness & Certainty, an audio visual artwork where hundreds of scientists were interviewed about the impact science has on their lives. Why? Because Lorna was one of those scientists. And what an interesting evening it was.
To be honest, it didn't start well. The caf� space in the venue was hardly ideal for concentrating on this sort of non-narrative work. And, when the panel discussion started, it rapidly disappeared up its own behind into a discussion of true randomness versus computer-generated pseudo randomness. Oh what fun. Luckily, Lorna had got us some red wine, which helped that part of the evening pass painlessly. Oh, and �science TV presenter� Dr Shini Somarathne (warning, frightening website) proved to have nothing to add to the discussion.
But from there on it was all upwards. The host for the evening, journalist Viv Parry was excellent, and the other two panellists, neuroscientists Mark Lythgoe and R. Beau Lotto (left and right above, either side of Shini) both made some interesting points about stereotypes of scientist, artists and the complicated nature of perception. But really, this was the audience's evening, with real back and forth between the artists, the panellists (well, two of them) and the audience, all ably handled by Viv. I even got shanghaied into participating, after Viv spotted me nodding vigourously in agreement to someone else's point. I ended up arguing against the false division people set up between the two areas of study.
It was a genuinely thought-provoking discussion on where the boundaries of art and science truly lie, and what the different personality types draw to each field really have to contribute to each other's work. But most of all, I just enjoyed the chance to really debate issues with intelligent, thoughtful and open-minded people of very diverse backgrounds (the audience was split 50/50 between artists and scientists, with a huge age range).
I really must do more of this sort of thing.
October 2, 2006
Busy work day today. I'm off on a conference that took up the whole of this evening and will eat up pretty much all of tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to every minute of it. When did that happen?
However, the really cool thing is that both the conference venue and the hotel I'm staying in tonight have completely free internet access. Free WiFi at Sandown Park and free wired broadband in the room at Oatlands Park.
So, I'm keeping up with e-mail, IMing family and friends, listening to podcasts and even getting some blogging done, without it costing me a penny extra. That's customer service. That's what will bring me back to places like this.