One Man and His Blog: July 2007 Archives

July 2007 Archives

July 31, 2007

Quinn versus Gilligan: Specialist Hack against Mainstream?

David Quinn, a journalist based in Manchester, posted on his blog that last night's Dispatches by Andrew Gilligan was actually trading off a three year old story. And David should know, because he covers the Manchester property market, which was the subject of the story.

And somebody claiming to be Andrew Gilligan has responded:

The programme did not say or imply that the Manchester story had been "discovered" by Dispatches or was an exclusive. Please get your facts right before you attack other people's.

There's two interesting things here. Firstly, it's revealing that mainstream TV journalism thinks that covering three year old stories is OK. And secondly, it's very interesting that blogging is giving specialist journalists a more powerful voice when their mainstream colleagues bulldozer their way into their areas of expertise.

July 30, 2007

More Rules of Online Communities

Hilary Perkins has posted two additional things about communities, to add to my list from last week.

Travelling and Powncing: My New Social Media

PownceI'm now available on Pownce and Dopplr, should that be of interest to anyone.

I'm gonna have to create a sidebar listing for all this stuff, aren't I?

Random Use of CAPITALS

Random linguistic psychology thought of the day*:

Why do some people randomly capitalise technology-related words they aren't very familiar with. Some examples include MAC for Apple's Mac computers and, pretty frequently, BLOG, from new bloggers.

It's common enough that there must be a root behind it somewhere.

* Ha! How often do you get to type something like that?

July 26, 2007

Boats on the Coast

Masts at Whistable
A gratuitous pretty photo, testing out the new picture management functionality in MT4.

MT4: The Basics Are Here

Well, after an hour or so's fiddling around, all seems well.

You should be seeing something like this:

This Blog in MT4Obviously, there's still quite a bit missing. Most of the widgets aren't on the page right now, and the blogroll won't reappear until MT-Blogroll is upgraded for MT4.

But for now, I'm pleased. Having a lovely WYSIWYG editor in MT is just a delight.

And We're Back...

Hello. If you're reading this, One Man & His Blog is now running under the release candidate of Movable Type 4.

Now to find out what's broken...

There May Be Trouble Ahead...

A few major changes are coming to this blog over the next 24 hours.

It's possible everything (and I mean everything) will break. Hang on to your hats, and see you the other side…

Digital Doorstepping by the Guy Doorstepped

Robin Hamman finds an interesting follow-up from one of the Virginia Tech Shootings witnesses that he originally contacted.

Well worth a read.

July 25, 2007

10 Things I've Learnt About Online Communities

I realised the other day that I've been participating in online communities for over a decade, from telnet-based chat rooms via mailing lists to Facebook. Here, mainly for my own reference, are the major repeating themes I've seen over that time:

  1. Whatever you do, don't listen to the loudest voices in preference to the rest
  2. You can't avoid conflict in the community, and even splits, no matter how had you try to control who joins
  3. Calming voices are invaluable
  4. Controlling voices are deadly
  5. Conversations that drift off topic and into running jokes are the sign of a good community developing - but if it goes too far, it alienates newcomers
  6. Once your community starts forming groups to develop rules, it's dead
  7. The people with the most vested in the community are often the deadliest to it
  8. Communities that grow too large will fragment and, if you can't accommodate that, move elsewhere
  9. Beware: those who police other's behaviours, those who believe in one true way and those who hate change
  10. Communities, like people, have a life span. Once it's gone, it's gone

July 22, 2007

Planning Le Web 3 2007 in Public

LEWEB3mirror.pngI think it's good to praise and well as complain so, in that spirit, I'd like to point out that Loïc is busy planning Le Web 3 2007 in public, both on his blog and over on Facebook. It seems only fair after what I posted about last year's event.

Loïc's just posted the idea pool he's drawing from at the moment and it looks… interesting. It doesn't feel like it's really addressing the problem of a very diverse group of attendees, which was one of the big issues last year, but that can't really be solved without moving to a multi-track conference, which is a more complicated undertaking. However, there's a good pool of speakers already, and a welcome move away from anodyne panels.

At least this year, nobody's going to be able to complain that they didn't really know what they were getting. (I can't help thinking that calling the conference Le Web 3 2007 rather than Le Web 4 suggests that, given enough time, all publicity is good publicity.)

Alexa Comes To Firefox. At Last.

alexa.pngI'm never slow to criticise Alexa, a site which provides web site ranking based on a toolbar that is only available to Internet Explorer users on a PC. Why, that's not going to distort the results at all, is it?

Fundamentally, I find the idea of people making decisions about their web sites based on the browsing habits of a small group of tech-savvy PC users just disturbing. Sure, you could argue that people who don't understand that there's an inherent problem with Alexa deserve everything they get. But it's usually the people who are making the transition to the web that fall into this traffic trap and end up making poor decisions based on poor information.

Well, they've finally addressed one of my major criticisms by releasing an Alexa toolbar for Firefox. The long climb back to being useful starts here...

Another Thought About RSS

Is a blog really a blog, if it isn't publishing some flavour of feed, be it Atom or RSS?

Or is it merely a web page with some blog-like characteristics?

July 19, 2007

Two Thoughts on RSS

feed-icon-64x64.png1. We really need some way to incorporate comments directly into the RSS feed (and no, doing it separately Wordpress-style doesn't cut it).

2. If you have a large number of RSS feeds in your aggregator, they really need to be tended like a garden. The dead wood and decaying flowers need to be trimmed away to let new shoots flourish, and you need to mow the lawn regularly. 1909 items unread does not count as a well-mown RSS lawn.

Reasons For My Silence #1: Calling a Plug a Plug


Blogging's been a bit erratic around here of late for a number of reasons. High amongst those is that a lot of what I want to blog about is my job. Now, there's no inherent problem with that — my employers are pretty good about that sort of thing — but I am concerned that if I do blog a little too much about what's going on here, it'll look too much like, well, plugging. And too much plugging is, frankly, boring.

And yes, I do know that goes against the transparency ethos that lurks behind so much blogging. Blogging about the job is not just allowed, it's encouraged. It's joining in the conversation. It's the naked conversation.

Continue reading Reasons For My Silence #1: Calling a Plug a Plug.

links for 2007-07-19

July 18, 2007

Could Your Employer Claim Your Facebook?

dlblogmirrored.pngDavid Lacey, one of our many bloggers, was in sunny Sutton this afternoon, being treated to lunch by the Computer Weekly team. I was invited along and, not being one to refuse a free Italian meal, accepted.

Now, I must confess that I don't read the whole of RBI's blogging output. I'm no computer security boffin and so David's output is not, on the whole, in my area of expertise or even interest. However, the discussion over lunch, particularly around the personal and social factors around computer security, was fascinating. Straight after lunch I checked out some of David's posts and this post in particular:

Now we have a problem for employees, with a recent court ruling reported in The Register which suggests that employers might have grounds to demand ownership of their employees’ social networking information, if it has been prepared in the course of their employment. This particular ruling forced a UK journalist to hand over the contents of his contacts list to his employer after he had left the company. According to legal experts, the key determining factor is not where the data is stored but the set of circumstances under which it was created.

Ouch. Think about it: how much is your social networking activity purely work-related? My Twitter friends are about 60% work contacts. So the company could demand access to that. My Facebook? Mmmm. Only about 20% - but still significant.

If this judgement is extended in the way David theorises it could be, it could have very serious consequences indeed.

July 17, 2007

Blogger, author and hack


One of our bloggers, Tim Relf is a published author and even has a Facebook group dedicated to his books.


July 12, 2007

Still Alive

Yes, I'm still alive. Just horribly busy. Will resume posting as soon as I can.

July 10, 2007

links for 2007-07-10

July 7, 2007

The Wikipedia Hustings

The battle for the next general election is already being fought - on Wikipedia:

Dawn Butler (Lab - Brent South) and Sarah Teather (LD - Brent East) will be fighting it out for the re-drawn seat of Brent Central at the next election, but online the battle has already started. The conflict is taking place on their Wikipedia entries (Butler, Teather), and researchers and party supporters almost definitely involved.

If you look at the history pages for both entries, and you’ll see a user called Brent Central has been duelling with an anonymous user working in the House of Commons (the most common Parliamentary IP address is The fight has been going since mid-June and involved more than 60 edits in under a month.

A nice piece of reporting from Recess Monkey, there. And it's very interesting that both sides seem to consider Wikipedia an important enough site that their representation there matters.

links for 2007-07-07

July 6, 2007

Journalist Distracted by New Media Flim-Flam

What happens to a journalist when he gets distracted by new media Flim-Flam like video (as demonstrated in my last post)?

He gets his facts wrong.

For shame, Mr Pogue. For shame.

Hacks Doing Video

I really can't decide if this piece of work by NYT journalist David Pogue is really clever and amusing, or just plain painful:

Still, experimentation is good and it beats most of the "queuing for the iPhone" videos

July 5, 2007

One Man

DSC_0042, originally uploaded by Andrew Orange.

Cool pic of me by one of my colleagues.

July 4, 2007

No Blogging - At The Seaside

Beach Alley Sign, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

Been at the seaside with my colleagues all today.

Normal blogging service resumed tomorrow.

Kidnapped BBC Reporter Freed

July 3, 2007

Feedburner is FreeBurner

Today's entry in the really-not-very-surprising stakes:Google Sets Feedburner Pro Free!

FeedBurner, the Chicago-based feed management startup that was recently acquired by Google, has decided to offer its Pro services for free. Users can now get all the Pro stats and services for free.

Pretty much par for the course with a Google acquisition, but great news for those of us who use Feedburner to monitor our feeds.

How Blogs Are Born

Werewolves would win. They regenerate. Robots just get torn apart.

[via Tango in her Eyes)

links for 2007-07-03

July 2, 2007

Still Supporting Alan Johnston

Remember Alan JohnstonBusy day today but, while rushing from meeting to meeting, I passed the BBC's Bush House, and saw this poster reminding the world of the plight of Alan Johnston.

A man who has been captivity for over 100 days.

A man who faces daily threats to his life.

Why? Because he was doing his job. And that's something that people who dismiss journalism as part of the past forget. Not many bloggers are putting their lives in the line in this way.

That said, it's easy to forget about what it's enduring. While I've been carrying the badge the BBC have provided on my blog for months, it all seems a little unreal. It's easy to slightly dehumanise people on TV. They're a little remote from us. They're personalities. They're, in some indefinable way, different. And the situation Alan finds himself is so far removed from most of our experiences as to be difficult to really comprehend. But, while checking the Wikipedia page about him, I discovered something I didn't know. He went to the same school as me.

Dollar AcademyAnd that really brings things home to you. That man, who has been kidnapped, imprisoned and threatened, because he was trying to bring us news from the Middle East, played in the same grounds as me. Fell over on the same rugby pitches. In fact, was almost certainly taught by some of the same teachers.

And somehow, the knowledge that the man in those videos with the bombs strapped to his chest has a part of his childhood so close to mine brings it all closer. We were both kids in the same Scottish school once. But while I sit tapping on my MacBook in a comfy flat in Lewisham, he's locked up somewhere in the Middle East, possibly with bombs strapped around his chest.

There's a little hope in the offing. Let's hope it turns into something more significant.

July 1, 2007

links for 2007-07-01


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2007 is the previous archive.

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