One Man and His Blog: March 2008 Archives

March 2008 Archives

March 28, 2008

Self-Pity Ahoy

Blog Martyr

Well, it's been a long week.

Picture by PostModernBarney. Pointed at by Mr Bruce Baugh.

March 27, 2008

Internal Blogging & Digital Journalism Lessons

two lessons from a busy day:

First of all, as I comb my e-mails for details of Movable Type problems and bugs past, I really wish I'd been keeping an internal blog from the start. Then I could just click the "server issues" tag and have a handy list to print out and give to the testers.

Secondly, I've realised just how much of a mental re-engineering needs to go on for journalists to adapt to the Web 2.0 age. Traditional publishing fundamentally had one process: research, write, edit, publish. Online journalism provides us with a range of tools, so you still research, but then you pick whichever medium best suits the story: text (long or short form), image, audio, video (streamed or recorded and edited). So, instead of a linear production workflow, you actually have a branching one, with critical choices to be made. And then you start factoring in interactive media, and the complexity goes up another level. That's a huge, huge change in the job. No wonder it takes time to enthuse people about this.

Showing Seesmic to Journalists

I just did a quick presentation to a bunch of our journalists about how easy it is to get video online, as part of Andrew's video club.

Here's how I demoed Seesmic:

And, here are the responses:
Continue reading Showing Seesmic to Journalists.

Quick'n'Dirty Video

March 25, 2008

It's Change Or Die Time For Media Companies

My, my. We are seeing some interesting times in the online publishing world, aren't we?

Mr Arrington of that widely admir'd and provocative pamphlet Techcrunch has discoursed at length about the coming juggernaut of the blog publishers. There's big venture capital money heading in the direction of the most promising guys, and a whole new way of thinking to go with it. Quoth Arrington:

And writing good content is only half the battle. You have to figure out the complex, dynamic web of politics between bloggers and mainstream media before you post to know where to get support. And you'll need support in the form of links from other prominent bloggers. An early push can take a post and make it a headline on TechMeme, which leads to page views and notice by sponsors. But since blogging is almost by definition a conversation between bloggers, fights tend to break out over emotional issues. Cliques develop. Can you count on them to support you down the road?
How are mainstream publishers reacting? They're trying to sponge free content off bloggers. Um, good luck with that guys.

So, what's happening here? We're in a transition phase.
Continue reading It's Change Or Die Time For Media Companies.

How Observant Are You?

Lovely idea, lovely execution, and a great example of viral marketing:

[Via Open]

links for 2008-03-25

March 24, 2008

The Calm Before The Storm

Planning a Movable Type Upgrade
I'm enjoying my last few moments of liberty before heading into what I've mentally been terming "the month of hell". Sometime in the next month, we'll be upgrading our install of Movable Type Enterprise to the latest version. That means testing over 100 blogs to see that their template all perform fine, as well as making sure nearly 200 people are training in using the new version.


Oh, and because that all looked too easy, we're also changing the server architecture while we do it. So, the next few weeks are going to be interesting to say the least. I'm used to blog upgrades being pretty trivial (bar that one time a Wordpress upgrade broke everything), but doing these things at a corporate publishing scale just changes the playing field. 

I've taken the last few days off blogging, to give myself an Easter break and to gather my reserves for the weeks ahead. But now I'm back to it. I'll try to blog my way through the process, but posting here might be even more erratic than normal, depending on how easy - or how hard - it all turns out to be. 

March 19, 2008

links for 2008-03-19

March 18, 2008

Why TV Doesn't Know How To Engage

Those naughty folks at Computer Weekly's Downtime blog are taking the mickey out of one of my colleagues with this video:

Now, I reckon that that they're missing the point and Mr Rogers will have the last larf here. The video isn't mocking user generated content in general, just that slightly cheesy way TV and radio solicits user feedback to give them a thin patina of interaction, which is wholly fake. Compare the "reckons" on TV to the debates found in blog comments or forums, and you'll see how shallow these efforts really are.

I hereby coin the phrase "cargo-cult engagement" to describe this phenomenon. My licensing rates are very reasonable...

Kevin May on Digital Journalism Skills

One of our editors (from Travolution) talking about digital journalism skills, filmed for today's workshop:

Liveblogging a Digital Journalism Workshop

Digital Journalism Workshop.jpg
Mr Martin Couzins, the web editor of Travel Weekly, is holding a workshop on digital journalism today.  I'm busy liveblogging it, but behind the company firewall, alas. I will posts up some highlights here, though.

links for 2008-03-18

March 17, 2008

Blogging the RBI Divestment

One of my colleagues (in the most broad sense of "works for the same employer in a distant sub-division of the business") has started blogging about the RBI Divestment as it happens.

He's actually using it as much as a springboard for discussions about company acquisitions and changes as about this actual divestment itself (as "not much to report yet" gets pretty old, pretty quickly..) but it an interesting wee read.

March 15, 2008

Micro-Celebrities: Selling Your City With Linda Barker

Linda BarkerMy friend and colleague Stacey has been at MIPIM, the big commercial property show held annually in the south of France. It's a big money do, and some exhibitors there spend some serious money to bring along celebrities. And other PR people think it's a good idea to hire Linda Barker...

There was no english breakfast served on a spoon this year instead down-on-its-luck Bradford rolled out Linda Barker of crap furniture ad and TV makeover fame to promote the city. God knows who thought that was an effective use of however much money she cost.
I did make a bit of a tit of myself by only recognising her enough to think she must be a PR I'd met last year. "Oh I thought I recognised your face" is probably not the best line to use when introduced to a 'celebrity'.

Money well spent by Bradford's PRs, then.

links for 2008-03-15

March 14, 2008

What to do about FriendFeed?

FriendFeed logo
So, like the good wee social media sheep that I am, I just signed up for FriendFeed. And I started entering all my social media sites. And then I realised that this all seemed very familiar. I was duplicating something I'd already done. I'd entered all this data before..

The problem is that I already, in effect, have a FriendFeed, built using the Movable Type Action Streams plugin. You can see it in detail either on the sidebar of this blog, or on a page of its own. You can even subscribe to it as an Atom feed.

Now, I though this is what all the work on opening the social graph was meant to solve. What I really want to be able to do is point FriendFeed over at my Action Streams feed and say "there you go. That's where it is". And then FriendFeed just sucks it in and I'm done. 

Any chance, do you think?

The Knee-Jerk Journalistic View of Bloggers

Oh, don't you love it when you open up your RSS reader, and find something that encapsulates an aspect of your life? Ladies & gentlemen, Mr Howard Owens:

Most of the bad bloggers tend to gravitate toward current affairs blogging.

Unfortunately, political blogs are also the kind of blogs most journalists tend to read. So a lot of journalists have a very low opinion of blogging.

Those of us more immersed in blogging, or who have grown beyond merely the current affairs bloggers, know that there is more to blogging than rants and raves.

[From Journalists who learn to blog help their online sites grow beyond repuporsed print news | Howard Owens]

This is exactly what I face when I go into a room full of our journalists to do a blogging workshop with them. I always start these sessions by allowing them to tell me what they think blogging is, and I've only once had anyone come anywhere near the broadest truth. Instead, they almost always focus down on what they see as uninformed political ranting. It's just another thing journalists have to unlearn to become any good as bloggers.

links for 2008-03-14

March 13, 2008

links for 2008-03-13

March 12, 2008

How Tools Can Define Digital Journalists

Here's the thing about blogging from the iPhone: it's a completely different experience from what I'm used to. On the whole, I'm a link heavy blogger and being forced into creating unlinked content is uncomfortable. Sure, I could manually create the links in the iPhone MT interface, but the barrier to doing it is just too high for me to be bothered. Students of publishing might like to notice the similarity with many CMSes deployed in large companies...

So, I'm forced into a more creation-oriented style of blogging; producing original content rather than "link and react" style posts. Ironically, that's pretty much what journalists do when they first start blogging anyway. I couldn't use the iPhone as my primary blogging tool, because I enjoy "link and react" too much.

But I can also see it playing a major part in the workflow of a journalistic blogger who specialises in reporting. It's light, flexible and allows you to post words and pictures wherever you can get a mobile signal. You can publish, junk and reply to comments easily through the interface. And you can also retroactively add links and other details once you get to a more conventional computer.

Continue reading How Tools Can Define Digital Journalists.

The Most Important Part of Lunch

Moblogging With The iPhone: Initial Reactions

The Big C centre in NorwichFinally, I have a little taste of WiFi. I'm sat in the Big C, a cancer support centre attached to the Norfolk & Norwich hospital, and I'm picking up the Norwich Openlink WiFi

First of all, apologies to anyone finding the pics I've posted from the iPhone this morning. I'm trying to simulate the sort of images a journalist could grab while wondering around a conference or a day's reporting, but the day I'm having today isn't quite on the same level of interest. 

That said, I'm certainly finding using Flickr's e-mail to blog functionality a really easy way of getting visual reporting up on the blog. E-mailing photos is significantly easier on an iPhone than any mobile phone I've used before. The phone's resolution isn't fabulous, but more than good enough for images on a blog. 

There's some lessons to be learnt - don't try to take pics while holding a coffee and a bag of croissants, if you want the picture to be level, for example - but I can see this being a viable reporting tool.  And grabbing five minutes on WiFi to tag and categorise the posts helps, too.

(Nice to see that the Big C has a blog - set up yesterday morning!)

Tea, Papers & Chemo

Tea, Papers & Chemo, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

She's a cheery soul, my mother.

The Hospital Run

The Hospital Run, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

It's only 10 minutes from the apartment to the Norfolk & Norwich
Hospital, but an intervening school and badly-phased set of traffic
lights can extend this rather.

Ah well, just two more runs to do on this chemo cycle.

And yes, the car was well and truly stationary when I took this shot.

Moblog Wednesday: Breakfast

Moblog Wednesday: Breakfast, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

And here I start a day's experimentation with blogging from my iPhone.

Breakfast for us here means a quick trip to the deli at 38 St Giles St
in Norwich, a fabulous little place adjacent to Adlard's Restaurant.
They do a mean Americano and their coissants are the best I've tasted
outside those from the boulangerie near my brother's place in France.
Highly recommended.

March 11, 2008

One Man Offline

I'm having a frustrating evening. I've stacked up a series of blog posts for my various blogs, and I can't publish them. There isn't even a sniff of the cafe WiFi that we're meant to have access to in this apartment, so I'm left with the unpleasant choice of venturing out into a blustery Norwich night in search of some WiFi, or tapping out an entry of two on the Movable Type iPhone interface.

And you know what? The iPhone interface is pretty good. You can forget putting any links in, of course, but that's as much to do with the iPhone's lack of cut and paste than a failing of Six Apart's work with the interface.

It occurs to me that I should actually invest some time in experimenting seriously with the iPhone as a mobile blogging tool. Expect a few more experimental posts over the remainder of my stay here in Norfolk.

Whatever Happened To The Idea of Open WiFi?


March 10, 2008

My Temporary Office

My Temporary Office, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

I'm on the road again, for another week of hospital visits with Mum.
This post is just a test of my ability to moblog from my iPhone via

4 Things Journalists Can Learn from the Lacy/Zuckerberg Interview

At the risk of beating a dead horse, there are a few points arising from the Mark Zuckerberg / Sarah Lacy interview at SXSW yesterday that I'd try to guide journalists I work with towards. Jeff Jarvis has already done an excellent take on this issue, and I'd encourage anyone interested to read it, but there are a few specific points I wanted to go into in more detail. Interested parties might also want to refer to this piece by Mike Butcher, analysing Lacy's coverage of the UK startups market, as background.

1. Engage

Sarah Lacy is taking a battering in the blogsphere today. And she has no direct means of replying that isn't mediated by others. She can be interviewed on video, phone in to TWiT or post angry tweets, but she doesn't have a blog to respond in kind. Her website is a classic brochure site, and she uses Twitter in a broadcast manner (Follows 33, followed by 817).

For a journalist who works in the social media arena - or who is trying to build a reputation in this area - this is an error. It makes you look like a typical dilettante mainstream journalist, picking around the edge but never truly getting involved. 

2. Know Your Occasion

Both at Le Web 3 '07 and in the video of yesterday's SXSW interview, Lacy displays a very common interviewing technique amongst attractive female journalists working in male dominated industries: flirting. What ever you think of the ethics of it, it works. I've seen former colleagues at Estates Gazette deploying it to devastating effect, culling stories from over-eager young property chaps, desperate to impress the pretty young thing in front of them and quite forgetting that she has a mind like a steel trap. That works in a social, intimate environment. On stage? It's just plain embarrassing. 

Also, the way she uses personal opinion and anecdote to try and draw out and relax the interviewee is a pretty common feature writer interviewing technique. It allows you to engage with your subject on an emotional level, and they're more like to open themselves if you've opened yourself first.

The problem with this on stage is two-fold: first of all, the audience doesn't care. Really. You're there to draw out your interviewer's views and opinions in a limited time period. The more time you spend expressing your own views, the less they're getting of what they really want. In a magazine, you chop out the bits about you. You can't do that on stage. Secondly, it makes you look, at best, self-involved and, at worst, arrogant. In an occasion when you are secondary to the interviewee, that's bad.

Continue reading 4 Things Journalists Can Learn from the Lacy/Zuckerberg Interview.

March 9, 2008

Sarah Lacy: Good in Print Does Not Mean Good on Stage

Back in December, I was fairly scathing about Sarah Lacy's interview with Digg's Kevin Rose at Le Web 3.

Sarah Lacy
It would appear from an interview that she did with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg that she hasn't improved much:

Sarah Lacey, the author of a Business Week cover article as well as a book on Mark Zuckerberg, appeared to spend more time discussing the personal moments that her and Mark shared before. At least ten times during the interview, Sarah Lacey failed to end on a question and instead preferred to end on statements.

The coverage just gets worse and worse and worse. There's even a comic recounting the Lacy/Zuckerberg encounter.

Alan characterises the reaction as that of a lychmob but I'm less convinced. There's a growing body of evidence that, for all her skill as a print journalist, and undoubted charisma, she just can't cut it as a stage interviewer. And if there's one thing the social media world can't abide, it's old media journalists giving themselves airs above their skill level.

If there's a lesson here, it's as simple as "stick to what you're good at".

March 7, 2008

Blogging Live from the Arctic Circle

One of our journalists got to spend time playing with big trucks in the Arctic Circle.

Trucks in Ice
I'm soooooo in the wrong job....

Are Free Tools Better For Web Publishers?

An e-mail arrives from the inestimable Mr Rodgers, directing me to a post by Howards Owens about using free web tools to improve your website:

The other day, Nick Sergeant was messing around with Yahoo! Pipes. He discovered that by ingesting content from one of our newspaper sites, and comparing those stories to the content in a specific story, he could automatically create related links to other stories on that site.
And that's a really neat little trick for getting those handy little "related articles" links on the bottom of your posts. Now, doing this sort of thing on a commercial sitre is not without its risks. Relying on free web services can come back to bite you if those free services suddenly close up or change massively. And, as a non-paying customer, you get exactly the customer service you paid for. 

Even so, the balance of cost savings versus potetial risk seems to bias heavily on the side of giving it a go. As Mr Owens puts it:

Note: There are vendors who provide this service for thousands of dollars. Thanks for one smart developer playing around with the latest, cool open-network tools, GateHouse Media can now make it available on our sites for free.
Big publishing companies tend to seek big publishing solutions. The problem is that the web favours small, agile solutions. Squaring that circle is a huge challenge, and one that's as much a social one as a technical one.

links for 2008-03-07

March 6, 2008

Flight Global's Digital Journalism

Oh, I just noticed that Micheal Targett, the web editor of Flight Global, our website for the aerospace industry, has posted about how his team are adapting to the age of digital journalism:

But at the end of the day the purpose is to serve the changing demands of our audience. I'm often asked the question: "But why are you bothering to doing that particular thing?"

The easy answer is because more and more people are reading, responding to, downloading, linking to or looking at "that thing" and therefore finding it of value.

So not a hard decision really.
Nicely put.

Explaining Twitter (and why you should use it)

Another of those great Common Craft videos, as spotted by Robin.

Sure beats the one-pager on "Explaining Twitter" I was about to write.

(You can follow me on Twitter, if you're so inclined)

Never work with animals, children or web editors

Shot for Computer Weekly's Hardware Hoarders competition.

links for 2008-03-06

March 5, 2008

Five Years of One Man & His Blog

I can hardly believe it, but today is the fifth anniversary of this blog. 

Back in March 2003, I decided that this blogging thing was going to make a huge difference to the way journalists worked, and I ought to get more serious about it than my Livejournal allowed. As I said, back in that very first post:

I'm a 30-ish writer and journalist. I have an eclectic set of hobbies and interests which may or may not become relevant to these pages. Really, I'm going to use this to vent opinion and thoughts on current events and general philosophies of life, possibly with a somewhat humorous bent, but we'll see. I already have a Livejournal for the more mundane, day-to-day stuff, you see, and fancied doing something a little different. Let's see if it works.

And so, One Man & His Blog was born, initially on Blogger, and then on Movable Type, which has remained the software underlying the site ever since. The eclectic set of hobbies and interests mostly have their own blogs, and I've given up on much of the current affairs stuff, as I was pretty useless at it. 

Through that half decade, the blog has focused on everything from photography, to architecture, to Lewisham life. It's also been through a huge number of design changes:

Picture 1.png
Picture 6.png

Picture 9.png
Picture 7.png

Now, I'm settled happily into a blogging/journalism intersection groove, as it's where my interest lies - and what my job is about. One Man & His Blog is more important than ever to me, because it's my outboard brain; where I think aloud about the issues that are upmost in my mind at work, articulate them, and share them. 

And I think it's fair to say that this blog has changed my life. I wouldn't be doing the job I'm doing now, if I hadn't started it. I would have missed making some great friends through blogging. It has already fundamentally changed this journalist's working life, and I'm seeing it happen to people I work with all the time. It's been five years well spent.

The fundamental thought process behind setting up this blog remains good for me: it's where I can explore what publishing means in the online age. And thus, I hope I'll still be here, on this blog, doing this stuff in five, 10 and 25 years' time.


One Way To Sell Magazines

[via Styledash]

Aborted Plane Landing

It's enough to put you off flying for life:

March 4, 2008

Speed & The Digital Journalist

Laptop with Apple sticker and coffeeWe've been doing more and more thinking about how to speed up the transition within the company from print journalists to digital journalists. My colleague Andrew's work-in-progress manifesto for digital journalists is a case in point. 

However, I think part of the process is as much about unlearning old habits as learning new ones. For one thing, one of the defining characteristics of a digital journalist is using web tools to do things quickly. Print journalists, rather ironically for people in a deadline-driven occupation, are used to having time to reflect on things. That can be fatal in the online age. 

Continue reading Speed & The Digital Journalist.

March 2, 2008

links for 2008-03-02

March 1, 2008

Bored of Facebook



Ah, the Weekend

Judging the Awards
Apologies for the silence. Been a busy, busy week. Yesterday, for example, was consumed by helping judge the Property Marketing Awards, and being interviewed by Kristine

Now, I've finally got the chance to catch up with my RSS and e-mail backlog, over coffee, on a Saturday afternoon. Nice.


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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