One Man and His Blog: September 2007 Archives

September 2007 Archives

September 30, 2007

Fry & Fame

Stephen Fry has published a second "blessay" (blog essay) on his blog. This one's all about fame.

September 29, 2007

Your Journalism Reading List

Lots of things I was planning on writing about, but won't manage before I go away:

Four bloggers bloggingA model for the 21st century newsroom
We've only really seen incremental changes in the way we run newsrooms (and magazine offices). This is a good start for a new way of thinking.

A recent journalism graduate thinking in a creative way about the very same topic. [via Jeff Jarvis]

Improving Traditional Media with Social Media
Once you get past the horror of words like "leverage" and "brand", there's the germ of some good ideas here.

Blogs and Real Journalism
Are journalists-turned-bloggers offering something distinctly different?

Subs Normal!
The fun of pun! (Boring bit: are the demands of search engines killing witting headlining, or do we have to think more about the context and utility of headlines?)

Where Did The Community Care Post Go?
No comment.

September 27, 2007

The Art of Prediction

Farmers Weekly 1967Isabel Davies of Farmers Weekly has been diving through the archives of the mag, and has blogged about a startlingly bad piece of prediction in one report from the 1960s...

September 25, 2007

Wordpress Woes

You know, I keep hearing about how difficult Movable Type is to install & maintain, but I've never had any real trouble doing it.

I just upgraded my Wordpress blog, Coffee & Complexity, to version 2.3. It broke, horribly, despite me following all the recommended steps.

I'm less than happy. Guess I'll get to find out if that Wordpress community is all it's cracked up to be, if I can't fix it myself…

Update: Based on some advice I found on forums, I deleted the whole installation, and reinstalled it from scratch. That solved the problem, but destroyed the customised look'n'feel of the site, which is a pain... Not exactly a smooth process.

September 24, 2007

Danger: Journalist Bloggers At Work

Here's some of our happy hacks at work:

It was shot on a mobile phone, so please excuse the lousy quality…

Travolution's Kevin May

Travolution's Kevin May, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

The editor of Travolution regarding me with deep scepticism…

It's RBI's Charity Blogging Day

And here's a selection of cheery journo-bloggers at work:

The RBI Blogathon

September 23, 2007

Work in Progress 3: Three Types of Journalist Blogs

Here's the third in my series of guidance documents for journalists, hoping to ease their transition into the blogosphere. As ever, it's posted here for advice, criticism or mockery…


Expert Comment

Many journalists assume that blogging is just a form of opinion writing. And it certainly can be.

If you have a depth of knowledge of your subject and can add genuinely interesting new content which gives the readers the benefit of your expertise, you can add something to the debate already underway around the blogging world.

These blogs can be slow builders in terms of traffic - expertise takes time to establish in the blogosphere. But as other bloggers find your work, enjoy it and link to it, readership can grow steadily.

However, if you aren't yet an expert on a particular subject matter, this sort of blog is a short road to humiliation. Your readers will, collectively, know a lot more than you. If you're lucky, they'll just never return to your blog. If you're unlucky, they'll come back and point out your ignorance in great and exacting detail.

Big Lorry Blog, Mannerisms, Tony Collins' IT Projects Blog

Continue reading Work in Progress 3: Three Types of Journalist Blogs.

One Man and the Cult

Cult of the Amateur
Yes, I have a copy of that book. And here's the photo evidence to prove it.

Why have I bought it? Why am I reading it? Isn't Mr Keen's book an assault on everything to do with the mass publishing revolution we're seeing on the internet? Isn't it just a pean of praise to a declining "command and control" media environment that is being rapidly replaced by mass choice?

Well, here's the thing. Many people on the leading edge of the Web 2.0 movement think we should ignore Mr Keen and his polemic about the horrific consequences for our culture of participatory web culture. "He's just a troll," they cry. "Don't feed him."

The problem is that he's far from alone in his views. I'm part of a team (with 'im and 'im) who are trying to translate the workings of the modern internet into terms that working journalists grasp - and many of them come out with the same arguments that Keen does. It's my job to counter these arguments, to understand the flaws in Keen's logic and to spot the misleading evidence he produces. And, indeed, to understand where he's right. Because this revolution is going to change media, and it is going to change the career structure of everyone involved in print journalism.

If you're a working journalist today, it's between you, your conscience and your bank manager as to whether you think it's a bad thing or not.

September 22, 2007

Popularity: Made by Monkeys

I've spent the day sat between two laptops and an iMac leaping between Movable Type, Google Analytics and Technorati, making sure all our traffic and links monitoring are in place for an internal event we're holding next week. In the course of all this, I've stumbled across what appears to have been our most popular post of the month:

It appears that 35,000 people really care about mobile phone batteries:

Made by Monkeys: Batteries

September 21, 2007

Mainstream Media: Not The Borg

I've just realised why the comments last night ascribing one monolithic mindset to the traditional media annoyed me so much:

His commenters show the typically depressing blogger mindset of treating us journalists like a monolithic social block that all behave the same way. Yet if any journalist should dare to describe bloggers in the same way, all hell breaks loose...
That was me, over four years ago. Can't we move on from this issue yet?

September 20, 2007

What I Learned From Social Media Club Tonight

I'm just back from tonight's meeting of Social Media Club London. A good night - it was great to meet Kristine in the flesh for the first time, and to catch up with people like Ian.

I was initially a little worried about how useful it would be, as I found my eyeballs rolling up at yet more blanket statements about mainstream media's Agenda. (I've been in the mainstream media for a decade. I clearly missed the Agenda memo…) However, Lloyd Davis' skilful management of the discussion* moved it into much more fruitful territory. There were three principal streams of discussion:

  • the numbers of people needed for a fruitful community
  • how social media will revolutionise/subvert existing media
  • how you find the right quality of material for your needs in an ever more diverse media landscape.
I mainly joined in the last discussion, and have enough notes for at least three posts - when I'm a little less tired, you'll be glad to hear.

And the end, Lloyd struggled to draw out what people had learned from the session. I think he was fighting a losing battle, because it was the sort of discussion that exposed the questions that need to be explored, rather than one that provided answers.

If I had to identify one thing that I really took away from it is that the most important moment in social media thinking is when the "social" element of it becomes more important than the "media"; when we stop focusing on this as a technological issue and start thinking of it as a human one.

And yes, you can be sure quite a lot of my posts in the coming days will revolve around that idea.

*Clearly the fact that he pulled me into the discussion early giving me the chance to hold forth at length to a captive audience has no bearing on my appreciation of his skills…

Welcome to OM&HB's New Home

This is it - first post on my new web host LivingDot.

So far I've been incredibly impressed with them, but I'll blog more about that later. For now, it's shower and work time…

September 18, 2007

Pissed Old Hacks Baffled by New Media*

My wise, witty and winsome colleague Andrew Rogers, Esq brings to my notice this fine bit of debating from The Guardian's Michael Billington:

Is blogging changing theatre criticism? Undoubtedly, yes. The newspaper review is now part of a broader debate about what is happening in the world of theatre. The professional critic is no longer regarded, if she or he ever was, as a lone, ivory-tower expert. We are all now exposed to the democratic hurly-burly of blogs, where our opinions can be countered, corrected, reviled or even, on rare occasions, enthusiastically endorsed.
Well, hurrah. Break out the booze, chaps. Another journalist has fallen to the blog borg.

Oh, hang on, what's this?

But, precisely because we live in age of relentless PR, the professional critic's voice becomes ever more vital. I see it as part of one's job to shut one's ears to the relentless din and simply judge a show on its merits.
OK, cancel the party. He's not quite there yet. He still holds to that intangible aura of superiority. We, the professional critics, are superior to you, the blogging hoi polloi, because we are immune to the wiles of the PR types. Our discernment is superior, our insight deeper.

It's the classic hack's delusion. We know more, and our opinions are more important, because we are journalists. We have control of the channels of information, so we must be better. The Reduced Michael Billington nails it:

Also, critics are uniquely equiped to see through all of the PR and marketing that surrounds plays. They do this by going to theatres on special nights set aside for them, where they are met by the play's publicist, handed a handy press pack put together by the marketing department and given free drinks at the interval which come from the play's marketing budget. How could an ordinary member of the public possibly see through the marketing, which, from the theatre's point of view, I am a part of?

*With apologies to Private Eye

Apple's Idiotic Decision of the Day

Via Mike Butcher's Twitter stream:

no wifi at apple iphone uk launch. What idiots
I really can't believe that anybody seriously arranged a press event, particularly a tech press event, without giving free WiFi access for the hack. Liveblogging has become such a big part of the coverage of launches that this is just foolish.

September 17, 2007

Blog Slowness & Commenting Problems

Apologies to any of you who have had problems accessing this blog or leaving comments today. Dreamhost is having problems yet again.

I'm seriously investigating other hosting options.

Once again, sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Work in Progress 2: Joining The Conversation

This is the second of a series of guides I'm doing for the company wiki on the basic principles behind blogging for journalists.

Just as I did with the first guide, I'm posting it here for my wise and lovely readers to laught at, mock relentlessly and rip into tiny, electronic shreds:

What differentiates blogging from other forms of publishing?

Most publishing is a one-way medium - you write, the readers read. Some response is possible, with the readers writing letters or phoning you up, but it’s limited and there’s no guarantee that the response will ever see print. Or that you'll pick up the phone. Or that you won't laugh at the reader with your colleagues as soon as you put the phone down.

Blogging is a multi-way medium. Post you put up on your weblog shouldn’t exist in isolation. They should link to other posts on other blogs, and they should receive links in return. Discussions happen over a few hours in the comments section of your blog, and elsewhere. You post a response to something one blogger has written on their blog, and a few minutes, or hours or days later they post a response. The readers move fluidly from one discussion on one blog to another elsewhere.

In other words, blogging is much more akin to the way conversations happen in real life. Traditional publishing is much like running into a pub, yelling at people for five minutes, and running out again. Blogging is like coming into the pub, and working your way from conversation to conversation through the course of the evening.
Continue reading Work in Progress 2: Joining The Conversation.

Comments Closed: A First

comments closed.png
Today marked a first for our blogging effort here at the brown towers. We decided to close comments on a post.

The nine days since that post went up have been something of an eye-opener for me. For one thing, I had no idea that there was such a strong and virulent hatred of social workers. For another, I'd mentally marked (almost certainly unfairly) Community Care as one of our "fluffier" titles - less likely to spawn a contentious debate than some of the others. I really hadn't thought that one through, had I?

I've been exchanging e-mails with the community editor of Community Care (he blogs at Mad World) for much of the morning, and he reached a decision that is, I think, the right one, even though it doesn't sit comfortably with me. While they were happy (well, fairly happy) to leave attacks on the magazine staff and the general social work profession up, and just about tolerated links to a BNP member's site, comments in which the commenters made accusations (some of them very serious) about each other just seemed beyond the pale. And, as Simeon pointed out in his closing comments, they were well off topic.
Continue reading Comments Closed: A First.

September 16, 2007

Is the Daily Mail faking comments?

Charles Arthur makes a compelling case that the Daily Mail is faking positive comments on its website.

Now, I've seen members of RBI staff leave comments on our blogs without making explicit who they are, but this level of sock-puppetry is just a bad idea. If you get caught, credibility crumples…

Social Media Club London

I'm going to the London Social Media Club event on Thursday. Anyone else heading that way?

Posting to a Blog, Not Posting a Blog

I'm not the only one getting annoyed by the blog/post term confusion.

She's right, you know.

September 14, 2007

Greetings, People of the Internet

Some Friday Afternoon humour for you:

links for 2007-09-14

September 12, 2007

Foot and Mouth Yet Again

Free Medical Journals From Reed

Good news from other parts of the vast Reed Empire. Reed Elsevier, which does all that pricey scientific publishing, is starting to make some of its titles free on the web. Good stuff.

Pirates, Beware

One of the reasons why The IT Crowd is one of the funniest things on the box right now:

links for 2007-09-12

September 10, 2007

Weapons Illustrated

It appears that the arms trade defence industry publishes comic books.

Not good ones, mind...

Community Care Fisked

Talking of Community Care (as I was in my very last post), I can say we have finally joined the blogosphere here at the Brown Towers. Why? Because a post on one of the ComCare blogs - The Child Minder - has been give an thorough fisking by The Fulham Reactionary.

I'm so very proud.

Agenda: Monday

I had a delightfully online-free day yesterday, doing some very old school things like putting actually, physical photographic prints into a photo album. (I know, I know, so very retro...)

Bit of a hectic day ahead: discussion about making sure our blogs are properly tagged for our vertical search engine Zibb, setting up some new blogs for Community Care and doing lots of planning for meetings later in the week.

Posting may be light. 

September 8, 2007

Authority is a Social Construct, Not An Objective One

I'd just like to draw people's attention to a really excellent comment Olivier Amprimo of Headshift left on a earlier post about the relationship between authority, research and blogging: 

Blog reluctants don't know how to filter informations with tag filters and RSS feeds.
They don't understand - or maybe they understand too well - that what is at stake is not relevance or objectivity but rather how this objectivity is socially built. That is an epistemological debate and it does have an impact on certain professions. We have been used to build it on diplomas or professional ethic codes (journalists, physicians, university professors) for ages. This was a (ancient Greek-like) way to organise a stable society. We have completely overlooked the fact that, no matter the diploma or 'business' card, relevance is an ever-going and demanding process.
It's a thought-provoking and challenging reply, that's helping reshape my idea of journalistic authority and relevance.

Two Truths About Journalists And Blogging

Two thoughts that have invaded my brain as I work on presentations for some of our journalists:

  1. Journalists' pre-existing reputation, and the inherited reputation from the magazine, are only good for one thing in blogging: getting people to the blog. From then on, the only thing that matters is the quality of the individual blogger's work. This is an unusually harsh, Darwinian world that journalists just aren't used to. It's going to be hard in the short term, but great in the long term, because mediocrity cannot survive.
  2. Good journalists should already have all the skills needed to make good bloggers. They network with other people, filter and select the best information and direct their readers to the best thoughts out there. However, they do the majority of this offline - either face to face, or over the phone - and only go "online" when they write up the results for publication. They challenge for a blogging journalist is to take that whole research process and move it online.

September 7, 2007

dConstruct 2007 Liveblogging

dConstruct Logo
I'm not at dConstruct today. No, I'm labouring away over a hot Movable Type installation in somnambulant Sutton, alas. But my boss is in bountiful Brighton enjoying the conference.

Ah. Corporate life. :-)

He's liveblogging the conference over at Falling off a Blog.

Update: Turns out my boss's boss is there as well and blogging it on Inflection Point.

(Is linking to your manager's blog a very 21st century form of brown-nosing?)

September 6, 2007

It's Awards Season - and the AOP likes RBI

My ever-lovin' corporate paymasters have had a pretty good crop of nominations in the Association of Online Publishers awards this year:

The XpertHR team have a rather good blog, and the Personnel Today team have loads of them:

The Online Journalism Blog is looking for volunteers to look at the AOP-nominated sites and post comments in a wiki.

The RBI Social Media Illuminati

RBI Internal Meeting
Plotting a revolution (but don't tell anyone)…

Serious Business Journalism (Again)

Celebs on Holiday logo
Nothing but serious business blogs for us, oh yes.

The Telegraph's Shifting Video Sands

Major thumbs down for The Telegraph this morning. Yes, as mentioned in my earlier post, they've made their new online videos embeddable. That's a good thing. Unfortunately, they don't remain consistent. When I embedded a video in that post, it was about Jane Tomlinson's death. Now it's about Madeline McCann.

This is dumb. Seriously dumb. The whole ethos of social media is built around the idea of when you link to something, it stays in the same place. Having a system that destroys that link is immediately undermining its usefulness.

Poor, poor show.

Update (2pm): It's just changed again, to video about a triple murder...

September 5, 2007 user?

Signin with Wordpress
Thanks to Movable Type 4's new OpenID support, you can now use your account to comment here.

September 4, 2007

Work in Progress: Types of Blog Post

04092007355I'm in the process of working up some documentation for a blog-related event we're having here at RBI later this month. The documents are going to end up as something of a beginner's guide to blogging for trade journalists, and will be going up onto the internal wiki tomorrow, in the hope that some of my colleagues will help develop them further.

But, in the meantime, I've thrown the first of them - Types of Blog Posts - up after the cut for you folks to look at, think about and roundly abuse, if you see fit.

Obviously, I'll be pathetically grateful for any comments or advice…

Continue reading Work in Progress: Types of Blog Post.

The Telegraph Gets Online Video

The Telegraph has launched its online video service this morning, using a Brightcove player. The content itself has ben produced by ITN On.

And yes, they've made the video available for embedding in sites. For an example, I've picked a brief story about the sad death of one of the most inspiring women in the country:

Update: It appears that the video has changed. I've written a post about the problems with shifting video content as a result.

September 3, 2007

Retraining Journalists vrs Other Frustrating Tasks

Jeff Jarvis declares that news organisations should be retraining their staff for the new media age.

Adam Tinworth, after a year of trying to do just that, pauses to bash his head repeatedly against his desk.

Left Hand, Meet Right Hand…

My, my. Information moves so smoothly around big businesses… I learn from Munir that Isabel, the community editor of one of our titles, Farmers Weekly, features in Press Gazette's My Week column a week back.

It has some useful insight into what we're up to here in Sutton's stylish brown towers…

Hacks Don't Care About Blogs

Occasionally, you run across a piece of research that confirms what you suspected to be true, but desperately hoped isn't. Catching up on my blog reading has just provided me with one of those moments:

Four out of five Danish journalists feel reading blogs is irrelevant to their work, according to a survey by media intelligence company Cision (via

Hardly any news journalists felt blogs were worth the hassle, but half of the survey's respondents did believe blogs would come to play an important role in the Danish media landscape in the future.

So, 50% think that blogs would become important, but only 20% bother to read them? "Hey, it's important stuff, but we can't be bothered to do anything about it." Way to look out for your future prospects guys.

Continue reading Hacks Don't Care About Blogs.

Inspiration Drought

I'm struggling for inspiration today, so if you're missing your Adam fix, you'll have to check out my Vox, where I've been dumping a load of random links and photos.

Update: As you were. I've found inspiration and am working on a post, you lucky things.

September 1, 2007

Research before you write - even about blogs

The Guardian's published a great piece about the relationship between the mainstream media and bloggers. I think the heart of the piece lies here:

From the dawn of blogging it's been tempting for established professionals to reject blogging as trivial and unreliable. Epitomising this stance most recently is Tom Wolfe - who, in a brief essay accompanying the Wall Street Journal's blog birthday celebration, dismissed the blogosphere as "a universe of rumours". To support this charge, he cited an inaccuracy in Wikipedia's entry about himself. Of course the online encyclopedia is not a blog at all. But critics like Wolfe can't be bothered making distinctions.
And the irony here is that too many people in the media, a profession founded on research, attack from a position of ignorance.

And that's not going to be a good way of winning…

[via Headshift]


Follow me on

About this Archive

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

August 2007 is the previous archive.

October 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.