June 2007 Archives
June 30, 2007
Looks like yesterday's failed attack on London wasn't an isolated incident: there's been a possible suicide car bomb attack on Glasgow Airport.
Too early to make too many assumptions about the reasons behind it, but the witness interviews going on on BBC News24 right now make it sound like a calculated attack, not an accident.
Up to four people arrested, one of whom was on fire.
You see that odd little piece of architecture on the building to the left of the church?
It was built solely so that the house would be taller than he church, after a dispute between the owner and the vicar…
I'm sticking more photos from my Cornwall holiday up on Coffee & Complexity, my new general interest blog.
The good Doctor Tinworth, my wife Lorna, has told me many times how Wikipedia is becoming a battleground in universities, particularly in the sciences. More and more students are handing in papers which cite only Wikipedia as a source. Anyone who knows anything about how scientific literature functions, and the fundamental concepts that underpin it, can see that as a problem. Wikipedia is closing the specialist students' minds to potential information, not opening them to it.
In light of Lorna's comments, danah boyd's contribution to a discussion about the role of sites such as Wikipedia on the Britannia Blog makes a lot of sense:
Why are we telling our students not to use Wikipedia rather than educating them about how Wikipedia works? Sitting in front of us is an ideal opportunity to talk about how knowledge is produced, how information is disseminated, how ideas are shared. Imagine if we taught the “history” feature so that students would have the ability to track how a Wikipedia entry is produced and assess for themselves what the authority of the author is. You can’t do this with an encyclopedia. Imagine if we taught students how to fact check claims in Wikipedia and, better yet, to add valuable sources to a Wikipedia entry so that their work becomes part of the public good.
And perhaps that's a good route for educators to take: move from step one (reject) to step two (embrace and extend). It's a blue monster moment all of their own.
Hold on to your hats. I'm going to do something I don't often do:
Yes, I just linked to The Sun. Why? Because this is yet another example of people failing to understand the nature of the net - something I've been giving a lot of thought to over the last week, for various reasons. Publishing on the internet is not a "get out of jail card" - if anything, it's the reverse. If you rant about your pupils to a friend in a letter, the chances are that only your friend will ever see it. If you rant about them on a web page, the chances are that your pupils will be able to track it down.
Now, there are way of posting private stuff to the net, well, privately. Facebook and Vox et al have privacy features built in. Until people learn to understand this, and then start using them, then stories like this will keep bubbling up.
I'm a Brit. I live in the UK. I'm not going to be able to join in the iPhone frenzy until later this year, when Apple gets around to launching the thing in Europe.
One thing I am watching with particular interest is the quality of the photography from the phone. My Nokia phones have all but replaced digital compacts in my day to day snapping, leaving me the SLR for serious work.
Can the iPhone come up to scratch in this area? I'll be watching the quality of images in this iPhone Flickr group carefully.
I think most people who attended LeWeb3 in Paris last year would agree that Hans Rosling was the stand out presenter. His graphical presentations of significant society development statistics is awe-inspiring. His recent TED talk is available as a video, and I couldn't resist sharing it. Do watch it:
Interesting look at how some journalists are already starting to work
Intereting peek into how the NYT handles reader comments
June 29, 2007
Interesting notes from a talk by Suw Charman
Looks interesting for a pre-alpha.
It's not much fun waking up to news of a bomb being found in your city.
But it sure as hell beats waking up to hear that a bomb has gone off.
June 28, 2007
(But I'm a little concerned at how much Dan knows about My Little Pony.)
June 27, 2007
"Did Harriet Harman blog her way to victory?" asks Ellee, as part of a nice round-up of the Labour Deputy Leadership blogs.
But it's a shame she hasn't blogged since her victory.
One of the ways that blogging complements traditional news is the way it can give you a real insight into the reality of people's experience. Take this story of a farm being submerged by the deluge of the last couple of days, which I picked up while doing the rounds of our blogs.
It doesn't take much effort to find multiple examples of eyewitness accounts. In light of the fallout around the "digital doorstepping" business around Virginia Tech, just republishing these accounts would be an error, but providing links to eyewitness accounts and experiences much be a vlaubale addition for readers for very little journalistic time.
UPDATE: And here's a marvellous picture of the about-to-be-PM on his way to his first day.
June 26, 2007
One of my former colleagues from Estates Gazette has started his own blog:
Mr Quinn always fell into the category of "annoyingly talented", so I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with his brand, spanking new Wordpress blog. It should be well worth checking out.
June 25, 2007
I'm fighting a losing battle.
To me, a blog is a frequently updated website, with a characteristic reverse chronological style and plenty of oppotunities for interaction. It is short for "weblog".
In my day to day work, aiding and abetting blogging journalists, and as I read around blogs in general it's becoming clear that, to most people, a blog is a post on such a site (case in point). Yes, each individual entry is a "blog", and the site is called something like a "blog site".
I've been at this a while. I'm verging on old skool when it comes to blogging (going on for six years now). And I'm turning into the electronic equivalent of the old geezer in the pub moaning about kids today and how they don't understand anything. Well, I surrender. I'm no longer going to call a blog a blog. I've no idea what I am going to call it, mind, but I can't fight the culture.
Inaccuracy wins. It's the way of the future.
June 23, 2007
LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye believes people will maintain two social networking profiles and that LinkedIn will dominate as the professional social network.
June 22, 2007
June 20, 2007
How the introduction of voice chat completely change the nature of communities in online games
A fascinating looking into the unapproved online businesses that form around MMORPGs
June 19, 2007
I'm not long back from the mashup* event in London about location. I'll probably blog more about it in the morning when I'm not so tired, but here are a couple of initial thoughts:
Mapping information to geographical locations really, really scares people. The vast majority of the debate today was about the privacy implications of being able to know where somebody is at any time, or tell where and when they were photographed or any of a variety of scenarios that were seen as intrusions.
In fact, the potential privacy issues seemed to worry some people so much that they it blinds people to the potential benefits of location-based information.
I suspect that core concern here is the move to map the indistinct virtual world onto the physical world. The net is a place of anonymity, at least in theory. People don't mind others knowing that they're online, because that gives them no information about where they are or, in some circumstances, the details of their identity. Once online presence gets mapped to geographic location, it becomes frightening.
But why? Are stalkers and the like so prevalent that this is a societally-challenging issues? Or are we all so devious in our private lives that others knowing where we are is problematic? It was revealing that nobody, bar one loyal soul, wanted their employer to be able to check their geographic location.
Perhaps it's inevitable that the spread of technology like this is going to change what sort of information we consider private. It might change the way we conduct business and relationships - and it might remove one layer of lies we can tell. This is yet another example of technology developing faster than society can adapt…
June 18, 2007
I'm not sure that the Doctor's very keen on bloggers:
From Saturday's Doctor Who...
June 15, 2007
The dangers of plunging into the multi-lingual world and getting it wrong.
Nice look at what makes a webby conference works - and what makes them struggle
Key quote: "I also love the fact that I could sit at home, watch an NCAA event on TV, and blog about it from my living room, but the guy with media credentials at the game can't. Absolutely hilarious."
June 14, 2007
This is something of a token post. I've spent the day "facilitating" a workshop for all our bloggers within RBI, and I'm shattered. Never has my respect for those of you who do this sort of thing for a living been higher: it's absolutely exhausting.
However, it was also extremely enjoyable. We had people from all over the business, including the US and Dublin, and there was masses of enthusiasm and a real, palpable hunger for more knowledge.
Whatever some bloggers say about journalists, I have evidence that they're just falling prey to the same sweeping generalisations that they accuse the media of peddling.
Interesting note on how blog structure might be harming Google rankings
Oh, so painfully true.
What have I started?
Post an opinion piece, or do it on a blog? Obvious really…
June 13, 2007
It is somewhat strange to discover that someone you were at University with now has a huge fan club on Facebook.
Declan may be a star now, but to me he'll always be the only guy on the student magazine that slept less than I did…
What's the one thing that all blogging journalists should know?
Oh, I was hoping to be at NMK today. I miss my fix of conferences.
Never mind, it wasn't to be, and I still have piles of work to do for an internal workshop tomorrow.
Graham's there, but hasn't shared more than his greasy breakfast, which I also envy, frankly.
And The Guardian's Organ Grinder blog is doing a good job, too.
Update: Robin's liveblogging NMK, too.
Update 2: And Kevin. (No mention of anything being like sex just yet, but we can hope…)
June 12, 2007
Something strange and wonderful has occurred:
Those of you familiar with the Mac and NetNewsWire will know what this screengrab means: for the first time in many long months, I'm finally on top of all my RSS feed subscriptions. I have none unread.
This feels great.
June 11, 2007
June 9, 2007
An attempt to make comment signin easier. Might be a bit late in the face of OpenID.
Interesting report from the IAB seminar
Great list! All editors need to read this.
Worth keeping up with…
June 8, 2007
Marks Anderson (sorry, it's been a long old week) has a right old go at how bad some journalists are over on Strange Attractor in a piece titled Blogging is like sex:
"The bottom line is that blogging is like sex. You can't fake it. You can't fake passion. You can't fake wanting to engage with the public. If you do, it will ultimately be an unsatisfying experience for both the blogger and their readers. Sure, for a while, the self-confident writer might sit back after crafting a lovely piece of prose and have some post-creative puffery, patting themselves on the back for their performance. But soon, they'll find their blog is a very lonely place."
And in all of those things, he's right. But what he doesn't explore, or even suggest, is that these things can be taught - or, at the very least, learned. If there's one thing that this job has taught me, it is that it's harder to teach many journalists to be good bloggers than it is a random member of the public. They have too much to unlearn first, too many long-established mindsets to let go of.
But it can be done. And it can be done with great success. And sometimes, once the light goes on, journalists will throw themselves into blogging with all their resources, skills and, crucially, available time. And the results can be pretty damn cool. Good journalists care about their audience. Good journalists talk to their audience. Once they see how blogs fit into that, then they really get the idea.
I'm rather warmer to the idea that every journalist should have a blog than Kevin is. Journalism is, in the end, about providing information to an audience. And if you don't care about an audience enough to want to interact with them, not only shouldn't you be blogging, you shouldn't be in journalism at all.
June 7, 2007
I think it's important to emphasise what a serious, responsible and professional undertaking business journalism is. So, to that end, may I present some farmers doing The Full Monty, as recorded by Farmers Weekly:
June 5, 2007
First thing that I've discovered in Movable Type 4 that makes me really, really happy: comment registration. You can actually sign up to be a registered commenter on any MT blog natively under version 4 - and those user accounts can be upgraded to poster rights later, if you should so wish. Now, this ability has been there in other blogging platforms, but it's nice to see it in MT.
The really nice touch is the implementation of OpenID. Basically, the OpenID, Livejournal and Vox sign-in options are all just OpenID, but it's handled is such a smooth, easy and non-techie way that it's just lovely. I can certainly see my Mum signing in to post comments here using her Vox account, for example.
Going forwards, I see no reason that enterprising developers can't extend that functionality to other OpenID-enabled systems. Very nice indeed.
So, what would be the sensible government approach to repeated revelations that IT projects have gone wrong? An internal investigation? Some changes of management? How about bringing in outside experts to manage the mess?
Some fine reporting from Tony Collins on Computer Weekly, there.
What a great morning for news. I've been using Movable Type since version 2 back in 2003 and, despite some flirtations with WordPress, I've stayed pretty loyal. I'm now a professional user of it at work as well, as most of RBI's blogs are run on Movable Type Enterprise.
So the news that MT4 is available in beta and that's it's going open source is obviously going to have a big impact on my blogging life. I've been privy to some of the details of this new release for a while (Six Apart treat their enterprise customers pretty well) and I can't wait to start exploring some of the new features, and the new interface in particular.
I'll be downloading and installing the beta later on, and I'll let you know how it goes.
June 4, 2007
Reading blog entries from three years back can be a mistake, especially when you end up suspecting you were writing better stuff back then...
June 1, 2007
Robin Hamman has posted an interesting write-up of a BBC College of Journalism debate on the media coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. And the issue of digital doorstepping that I was talking about at the time has re-emerged. Professor Joe Foote, the head of Journalism and Communication University of Oklahoma, has something to say on the subject:
Someone asks about "digital doorstepping": Foote responds saying that, when he was a journalist thirty years ago, when something happened they'd get the phone book out and ring the person up for comment. "I don't see anything different about a journalist going to a face book page and taking something from there because it's been deliberately published and shared..."
Foote is missing at least a couple of significant points here. For a start, many users of these networks perceive then, emotionally at least, as being "places" rather than communication methods: they are the front room rather than the telephone. And leaving a comment asking for quotes, a contact or an interview, is more akin to suddenly appearing in someone's living room rather than giving them a call, at least in the case of inwards-focused publishing and networking services like Livejournal and Facebook.
Fundamentally, what we have here is the clash of two great bodies of ignorance. On the side of the journalists, it's a complete failure to understand the culture and emotional weight of some of these online communities. They charge in. trying to apply physical world models to a new environment and wonder why they get a hostile reaction.
On the part of the online community users, it's a case of failing to really comprehend the nature of privacy in these online environments. For a long time they've been able to rely on a general ignorance of their parents, bosses and the world at large of them. (I was blogging for years on Livejournal before anyone else in my office even knew blogging existed.)
That time has gone.
Now, they need to understand that those spaces are only truly private when they use the privacy features are enabled. Don't want the press using your Livejournal account of a news event? Mark it as Friends-only. The features have been there since the start. Now the wider world is coming to understand these sites, it's time for people to learn how privacy really works in the online world.
Happy news in my work e-mail this morning: Reed Elsevier to exit the defence exhibitions sector
Reed Elsevier announced today that it is to exit the defence exhibitions sector. This portfolio of five shows is part of Reed Elsevier's global Business division and represents around 0.5% of group annual turnover.
Sir Crispin Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Reed Elsevier, said :
"Our defence shows are quality businesses which have performed well in recent years. Nonetheless, it has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement in the defence exhibitions business.
I wasn't always comfortable with that aspect of my employer's business. Soon, it won't be an issue.