February 2007 Archives
February 28, 2007
Here's a rare but notable thing; a post by Dave Winer I agree with completely:
Keen's work is a book-length sneer at most of what we hold dear. He blames bloggers and podcasters for the demise of professional media, as if somehow we're responsible for the endless coverage of Anna Nicole Smith on cable news, for Judith Miller's complicity with the Bush White House, for the shameless way the press, without notable exception, hounded Howard Dean out of the 2004 presidential race. Of course we're not responsible for any of those horrors, and Keen should, somewhere in this book, consider that blogging might be an attempt to solve some of the problems caused by a vacuum of responsible high-integrity journalism.
Amen to that.
February 27, 2007
The residents of Sutton speak:
February 26, 2007
Learn to video blog…
February 24, 2007
Some interesting figures on who dominates the RSS reader market.
And here's Feedburner's own figures on this
This is a reality that corporates and, worse, corporate best practice, has yet to catch up with. And it needs to. Fast.
An interesting experiment for Lent
February 23, 2007
One of my colleagues who was at teh Mashup event last night has a rather more insightful post about it on his Vox blog.
February 22, 2007
Tony Fish is our contrarian for the night. Apparently the semantic web won't work because Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey cook differently, and restaurants are a finely tuned environment. Or something.
Strangely, now that Q&A has started, the conversation has moved away from technology issues to social ones. And, essentially, people are worried about trust systems and how that works. The eBay sellers issues and their rankings seems to be default example and it's leading to a discussion about how systems break down as we move from geeks to the general public. Big company buy-in is seen as vital by people on the floor.
Paul Walsh of Segala is up now. OK - they've written a browser extension that indicated in search results which sites are making declarations about their content. IE: a medical site could declare that it adhering to a code of practice. Others could declare that they are suitable for people with certain disabilities. It's sorta like metadata on steroids for websites.
I like this guy. He's talking in user experience terms. Like porn sites being able to declare that they aren't child-friendly. Responsible porn?
Sam Sethi is giving us a quick rundown on Microformats, and demonstrating how they can be used to embed data in a web page and then be used by other applications after they're auto-detected.Nice little demo. First time I've got a handle on it.
Marc Birbeck of Xport (the next speaker), is getting a little techie for me. He's talking about blurring the distinction between the desktop and the web. (Didn't Microsoft try to do that about five years ago?). Ah, now he's made it clear - he's talking about browser-based mashups, rather than relying on them happening on servers. That's interesting. Uses xforms.
Liveblogging time. I'm at the Mashup event in central London. I'll blog for as long as the battery lasts.
Whoops. One Livejournal user notes that, since the Six Apart acquisition, Livejournal's ability to cater to non-US users has actually gone down.
February 21, 2007
It's been a while since I saw an online community idea that really caught my imagination, but this is one:
Shoutfit is an nice picture sharing/community site focused solely around fashion. People can upload their outfits, pop them into groups, and others can comment on them - or upload pictures of themselves wearing the same outfit.You can see more of the outfit in the screengrab at Winterformal!
It doesn't seem to have attracted many users just yet, which is a shame, because the general idea is great.
Just another internet community that's failed to generate "buzz", I suppose.
One of our websites is running a competition to name their next blog:
I'm just testing how well posting from Word to Movable Type works.
This is one of the exciting new features in Word 2007.
February 19, 2007
It was a great idea. It doesn't work.
AOL jumps on the OpenID bandwagon
Another blogger gets a book deal - after only 6 weeks!
At last! Google is going to be reporting numbers of feed subscribers to feed providers.
February 18, 2007
Further proof that film photography is on the way out: in the last 24 hours we've been unable to find a single pharmacist or supermarket that sells camera film in the area of Bristol my mother in law calls home.
February 17, 2007
The Guardian's Organ Grinder blog posted a few comments on ABC plummets amongst high-profile consumer magazines in Is anyone happy with the magazine circulations?. I found this comment amusing:
Pffffff. I know you try your best, but "extensive"? C'mon - it's yet more Loaded, Cosmo, Heat and FHM, with a bit of Prospect/New Stoatsperson thrown in. As for the specialist magazines that fill 80% of the shelves at WHS? Nary a mention. Oh, I'm sorry, you did mention Golf Monthly. There are a hundred fierce circulation battles going on in the specialist press. Get out there and cover them.
The guy has a point. People seem remarkably uninterested in writing about the world of specialist magazines, be they business or consumer magazines. I wonder if some form of "inherited importance" is at work here: people want to write about national, general interest subjects, because that makes them of national, general-interest importance.
The "long tail" theory hasn't yet taken root in coverage of UK media, because very few people are talking about specialist media, despite the huge numbers of journalists and readers involved in these titles - and the potential of internet community development they present.
Maybe I should write about this a little more…
The Blog Herald has picked up on the story The Guardian ran on our blogging and social media efforts at RBI:
February 16, 2007
Women gamers get laid more often. Allegedly.
When it's from The Guardian, apparently… An interesting take on what makes a "real" blog
Nice communal blog about the recent conference.
Answer: too often, yes.
February 15, 2007
Nice look at the recommenders in the future.
February 14, 2007
It's a rubbish headline, which undersells the article based on current news, but hey, this is The Guardian piece on RBI's push into the internet world. I get a mention towards the end:
Katie got my job title wrong. Hey, that's life.
Jeff Jarvis hits the nail on the head: the new media tools should drive up the standards of professional journalists, not drive them down.
You can't hurry communities, no, you'll just have to wait…
MySpace introduces content filters. It begins…
February 13, 2007
It's a bright Monday morning and we're all here in Makati, learning how to blog. Just how difficult is it? If you're a journalist, you're supposed to know how to write, thus, it shouldn't be that difficult. But surprisingly, many journalists I know - particularly those from the print media - are apprehensive about blogging.
Must say it took me some time to pluck the courage to blog openly as well. I did not mention my name in my early blogs and hardly wrote about things that would identify me or the organization I belong to.
I guess it's because, as a journalist, you are trained to be very careful about everything you write about. As a member of a news organization, there is also comfort in the thought that, before your words see print, they will go through rigorous editing and fact-checking.
Blogging, on the other hand, is a spontaneous exercise. You are on your own. Once you hit the "publish" button, that's it. There's no turning back. If somebody happens to be browsing through your blog at that very moment, he or she will be able to read everything you wrote; including all the grammatical errors, misspelled words, and (horror of horrors!) ill-informed (read: ignorant) outbursts.
And this is exactly the problem I run into again and again with journalists. It's the sudden removal of the comfort zone, of the layers of polishers, fact-checkers and editors between your raw, uncensored prose and the world.
It's all down to you. You take the credit and you take the blame. And that can be a frightening idea for some journalists.
[via The Blogging Journalist]
Too much widget bling can slow down your blog and/or make your blog look hideous
Beth said something similar recently. I've just removed the Twitter widget from this blog because it was slowing things down horribly. Widgets are a great idea, but they need to perform much, much better.
Are we addicted to technology? Do we really understand what is meant by technology? Do people only mean new technology when they use the term?
This could have serious implications in all sorts of ways. Who will police it? Who takes the blame?
Useful round-up of UK journo bloggers
The Independent prepares to migrate from ancient Macs to new PCs. Their "classic" equipment might well explain the paper's lack of web-savvy. The journalists can't see most of it....
February 12, 2007
Here's a great example of a print publisher starting to make good money from becoming an online business. Colin's Corner: The transformation of IDG:
For over four decades we’ve had print blood running through the veins of the corporate body. But over the last few years we’ve seen dramatic change. Today the absolute dollar growth of our online revenues now exceeds the decline in our print revenues. This occurred in the US in 2006 and in Europe during the last quarter.
With this change in the revenue mix and the higher margins from our online businesses - the company is more profitably today than it has been previously.
But it's not all plain sailing:
The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.
My guess: there are two types of publishing company right now; those who say they are grappling with these issues, and those who are grappling with them, but juts won't admit it yet.
February 10, 2007
Brian has kindly pointed out that my blog is somewhat screwed in IE7. As I'm in Suffolk and surrounded by Macs, I have no way of knowing if the design changes I've just implemented have solved the problem or not.
Would anyone with a PC be kind enough to check? Thanks!
February 9, 2007
Alex Singleton attempts to explain feeds in RSS - why and how on Samizdata.net. Brave soul.
For some reason, the two biggest ideas I struggle to communicate to journalists who start blogging are what RSS feeds are, and what "blog" means. For some reason, most of them think that a blog is what most of us would call a post, and so they end up creating horrible words like "blogsite" to describe what everyone else calls a blog.
"Hey, I loved the magazine you wrote for your magazinepublication."
I put together a UK Journalists' blogroll for the resuscitated Press Gazette. These are journalists based in Britain blogging predominantly about journalism.
Clearly trade journalists only count if they write about journalism for a living… :-)
Ah, how little most bloggers who use the term "mainstream journalism" understand the complex web of disdain and jealousy that links trade press, national press and consumer press journalism…
Ah, well. Our humble trade press efforts in the blogging world are due to appear in The Guardian tomorrow. That'll keep me warm at night for a little while.
February 8, 2007
I've been playing around with a few video upload sites, as I fancy doing a little more videoblogging, and want to acheive better quality than YouTube offers. A couple of sites have caught my eye, so I uploaded the same video clip to both to do a quick comparison.
This one is from blip.tv, which has nice things like an automated video podcast feed and the option to upload different versions for different players:
And this is from Vimeo, whose interface is beautifully clean and simple.
I can't decide which I prefer...
February 7, 2007
February 6, 2007
Microsoft has thrown its weight behind OpenID, an emerging Web authentication standard.
The announcement was made Tuesday at the RSA Conference in San Francisco during a joint keynote by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie that was long on vision and short on specifics.
Microsoft pledged to work to integrate OpenID with its CardSpace identity management software, which is now available in conjunction with Windows Vista. "The marriage of CardSpace and OpenID 2.0 is actually a giant step forward," Mundie said.
And that moves us one step closer to having a universal sign-in system for blog commenting.
[via Jay Allen]
This is just fabulous:
I first posted it over on Vox last Friday after spotting it on Stephanie's blog, and fully intended to post about it here over the weekend. And then got overwhelmed by the amount of decorating we had to do. Ah, well. Just in case you haven't seen it on the 1,237 other sites that have used it, this video really cuts to the heart of what makes the new world of web publishing so very, very exciting.
I have a suspicion that every Web 2.0 presentation that happens inside RBI over the next few months will end up using this.
A couple of highlights from the day job.
At the tail end of last week, New Scientist launched a competition to allow one lucky person to win a trip to space. Why does this involve me? Well, the entry mechanism is, in fact, built around a Movable Type Enterprise blog. And very spiffy it is, too:
The entries are flooding in, too, and nothing's broken, which is a huge relief.
About the same time, Farmers Weekly launched its third blog, Food for Thought:
With an impeccable sense of timing, it chose to do it just as the latest Bird Flu scare hit the nation, with thousands of turkeys perishing long before their normal December cull. The editor of Poultry World is posting regularly on the topic, which is great. FWi also has a general information page on the Suffolk Bird Flu situation.
February 3, 2007
Academic Gregory D. Morrow at Agora Vox, which claims to be "The first online newspaper in Europe written by citizens," is holding a "The Bloggers-Are-Not-Lonely-Outcasts Contest, according to a February 2, 2007, post under his byline. It's a reaction to incendiary quotesdesigned to generate publicity forBlogosphere: The New Political Arena, a book by Michael Keren, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Communication, Culture and Civil Society at the University of Calgary, in Canada.
Nice to see a little constructive response to that report I mentioned a couple of days ago.
February 2, 2007
"Yup, we're killing the trees," said Karl.
Given the news earlier in the week that deforestation is responsible for more global warming than air travel, I can't help wondering whether the slow death of the published magazine at the hands of the internet might not be a good thing, at least in terms of the environment.
Or is the production of all the technology and energy needed to sustain an online communications infrastructure more damaging than print publishing ever was?
February 1, 2007
Ah, you know when things are becoming important when academics start producing half-baked reports on the subject. For instance:
…Michael Keren, who has written "Blogosphere: The New Political Arena," suggests individuals who bare their souls in blogs are isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world.
"Bloggers think of themselves as rebels against mainstream society, but that rebellion is mostly confined to cyberspace, which makes blogging as melancholic and illusionary as Don Quixote tilting at windmills," the author says.
Keren, who teaches in the faculty of communication and culture, spoke to reporters Tuesday at The Loft, a student cybercafe at the university, where many students were busily typing away on laptops - perhaps updating blogs of their own.
"In this world of blogging, which the whole world can read, you have a personal expectation about a readership that's just not there for the millions of bloggers who are writing their personal feelings."
Now, to give the man due benefit of the doubt, this might just be another case of journalists misreporting scientific research, a subject that Lorna can hold forth about at length. The way the story reads, though, makes him sound really clueless. There's no qualification in there, no indication that he understands that the personal journal style of weblog is only a small proportion of the whole. For comparison, it's a bit like conducting a study of magazines, but restricting yourself to school newspapers. Claiming that all magazines are like that just makes you look stupid, however good your research actually is.
Hat-tip to Tango in her Eyes for the link.