One Man and His Blog: April 2008 Archives

April 2008 Archives

April 30, 2008

The 3 Best Quotes from the Journalism Leaders Forum

Yesterday evening I happily spent some time following the Journalism Leaders Forum through Twitter and a live video stream. There was much debate about the vague pointlessness of one of the sessions - "Why isn't more media translating into more money for mainstream media companies?" - with the feeling that the time for talking about this is pretty much over. It's time to start getting out there to find the answers. 

Ironically, this morning I woke up to find some excellent blogging around the session (much of it critical, mind), the choice meats of which I present for your enjoyment:

  1. "I get annoyed when people suggest that the only people who can deliver news to the public are newspaper journalists. I believe that is an arrogance based upon fear." - Joanna Geary.
  2. "Er, sorry to be the one to break it to you guys (and it was all male), the horse hasn't just bolted, he's built his own nice new stable in your garden." - Sarah Hartley
  3. "In case some of the mainstream media haven't got this yet - 'THE WEB DOES NOT OWE YOU A LIVING'. It doesn't care that you have been doing this for years, you have to earn your eyeballs like everyone else." - Andy Dickinson

Like many of those actually present in the room, I do find myself wondering how often we're going to have to answer the same questions from our journalistic colleagues about the web. 

Static Stories must give way to Live News

ServersThe BBC is carrying what amounts to a "no shit, sherlock" story: Web is in its infancy, say Berners-Lee. And I suspect that the creator of the web is busy wondering why anyone thinks that this is news. (Update: It appears that quite a lot of people are thinking the same thing)

After all, the web is a scant decade and a half old, yet most of the innovations that people are using daily, from streaming flash-based video, to social networking, have only come to prominence in the last half-decade. And, as Alan makes clear, that's just a blink of the eye in terms of most technological adoption.

We're only just beginning to understand what the implications are of moving from a static web to the live web (as Doc Searls has so delightfully termed it). His presentation at Le Web 3 '07 has stuck in my head for the last few months, and has finally bubbled its way into something meaningful in my conciousness. And here it is: .
Continue reading Static Stories must give way to Live News.

UK ISPs Need To Recongise The New Media Landscape

Om Malik is suggesting that the slowing rate of broadband adoption in the US will lead companies to try and boost their speeds to upsell consumers. It makes sense, as it will allow them to continue growing, even as the early boosts from the initial wave of broadband adoptions start to fade.

Now, that's a much more positive angle on the broadband industry than the UK is showing. Virgin's call for the BBC to contribute to the bandwidth costs of the successful iPlayer is just ludicrous. For one, the BBC is already paying its own supplier, and at the other end, the customer is already paying for the bandwidth. If the ISPs were genuinely committed to serving their customers, they'd have been following the rapid growth of audio and video streaming and downloading amongst their users, and putting plans in place to facilitate it. Penalising another company for being popular with their customers is just not the way forward.

This is an important debate for those of us in the media to keep a watch on. This fundamentally affects both the major future content delivery platform for our work - and our costs for accessing it.

April 29, 2008

Server Upgrade: Video Status Report

Watch me stumble over technical stuff on Seesmic:


links for 2008-04-29

April 28, 2008

Downgrading the Upgrade Date

Frustration
One of those days.

We've been planning the upgrade of our Movable Type servers for months now. I thought - hoped, even - that we'd press the button and do the upgrade this week. Ah, well.

It turns out that a particular testing resource we need before we'll get full internal approval to do this won't be available until the weekend - which means that the big server update will happen next week at the earliest. And that means I'll need to re-arrange a week off I had scheduled. Which was to get the flat on the market...

...life is rather too much like one of those domino collapse movies people with too much time on their hands enjoy making, isn't it?

Film: Developing Photos The Old Way

film developing.jpg
I had a very weird, very retro experience this lunchtime. Lorna and my in-laws are back from their Florida holiday, and I offered to take my mother-in-law's film (yes, film) in for developing. As one of my colleagues remarked "Do they still do that?"

I handed over my film and cash - and was surprised to be handed back a free, replacement film - that was 36 exposures, rather that the 24 I'd handed over.

And somewhere at the back of my head, I got a strange feeling of deja vu - like this was something that used to be quite common, and which has come back into fashion. Am I right? Or am I just mis-remembering?

April 25, 2008

links for 2008-04-25

April 24, 2008

Social Media Brainstorming


Social Media Brainstorming, originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

links for 2008-04-24

April 23, 2008

3 Mobile Broadband: Upload Speeds Not Good

Caffé Nero on 3G
Incidentally, the last post was all done using that 3 Mobile dongle I'm testing. Normally, I'd just leap on the BTOpenzone WiFi while in a Caffé Nero, but I thought I'd put the mobile broadband through its paces.

And it's more-or-less fine. The only real weakness is the painfully slow photo uploading. I tried uploading a pic both directly to my blog, and to Flickr, and uploads in both cases were pitifully slow. 

This is a real weakness of the service for me, as a generally pic-heavy blogger. The resized pic on this post was somewhat quicker to upload, but still, it wasn't really an acceptable speed for such a small image.

Anyway, I'm off to catch a train. I'll try to update this post from the train...

Update: Just managed to get a connection, as we pulled out of Charing Cross. Will it last, though?

Update 2: Just arrived at London Bridge, and all is good.

Thoughts from The Tuttle Club Breakfast

The Tuttle Club Breakfast
I've just left today's Tuttle Club (or should that be Social Media Café?) Breakfast, held at the rather lovely One Alfred Place

As always at events organised by Lloyd, it was a bit of a brain-stuffer. Lots of chance to chat with people from a wide variety of fields all of whom have an interest in social media. 

In no particular order, the ideas I took away from the session which I'll probably blog about more later are:

  • How you might facilitate real-time metrics for journalists
  • How to maintain passion as a medium endures, and what we can learn from the mistakes made as business magazines matured
  • How job titles can be the biggest barrier to organisational change
  • Is routine the enemy of passion?
  • What can we learn about physical working spaces from online social media spaces?
As you can see, it was a very trivial, light-weight discussion... 

links for 2008-04-23

April 22, 2008

links for 2008-04-22

MobileConnect: Get An Icon

3 Mobile Connect iconOK. It's small and it's petty, but there's something irritating me about the software I use to dial up with that 3 mobile broadband dongle. 

It has no icon.

To be more accurate, it uses the generic application icon for all Mac OSX apps. C'mon guys, if you're going to provide Mac compatibility, at least make sure you put a token effort in on the Mac aesthetics, too.

I've just confirmed every prejudice about Mac users going, haven't I?

April 21, 2008

Mobile Broadband: Testing 3's 3G Dongle

Thumbnail image for 3 3G Dongle

Three things have happened recently which have made me reconsider my attitude to mobile broadband:

  1. Playing with my iPhone has made me reconsider the speeds available on mobile broadband, giving me an experience that actually matches the speeds, unlike the "meh" performance of my old Nokia.
  2. Spending a week in a WiFi-less flat in Norwich, helping Mum through chemo, makes the idea of mobile-based broadband so much more attractive.
  3. I got busted at work. For the last 18 months or so, I've been hooking my personal MacBook up to the company network each day, initially because it took a couple of months to sort me out with a PC down in our corporate HQ, and later because I missed too many of the applications on my Mac. The network guys finally spotted it, and booted me off the network.
So, when a guy from 3 Mobile dropped me an e-mail asking me if I would like 3 free months' of 3G mobile broadband in exchange for blogging about my experiences good or bad, I debated the ethics of the situation, thought about the pros and cons of the offer, and then remembered that he'd said "free" and said "yes, please". 
Continue reading Mobile Broadband: Testing 3's 3G Dongle.

Why I Still Buy Magazines

Do you still read magazines? Do you pick up a daily newspaper? Or have you moved entirely online. Andrew of Engagement 101 challenged me to list the three magazine I would subscribe to in printed form. Well, in fact, I subscribe to four, and buy a fifth regularly, and here they are:

1 & 2: Digital SLR Photography & EOS Magazine

EOS Magazine
Digital SLR Photography A few years back, I used to subscribe to two major types of hobby magazine: Mac magazines and photography magazines. I haven't bought a Mac magazine in two years or more, because everything they do is done better by the internet. Photography magazines remain a mainstay of my dead tree reading because one area print excels is showing photographs in all their glory. EOS Magazine is a niche title aimed directly at those people with Canon's SLRs. It's beautifully designed, with really useful content and some great, inspirational photography. It's a really nice object to own, and that's why I look forward to it turning up each month. Digital SLR Photography is actually a case of one editor's skill causing me to buy the product. Daniel Lezano was launch editor of Photography Monthly, and in it he created the photography mag I'd always wanted. Beautiful design, great images, fascinating interviews and useful advice. It was a lovely piece of work. Then, all of a sudden, the group editor was editor, and Dan was gone. The magazine went downhill quickly and I dropped my subscription a few months later. A year or so later, I ran across this new mag, and have been buying it ever since.

Continue reading Why I Still Buy Magazines.

April 20, 2008

links for 2008-04-20

April 19, 2008

Birmingham Post Journalist Posting Del.icio.us Links on Articles

The Birmingham Post, with the likes of Joanna on staff, continues to impress as a newspaper rapidly reshaping itself with social media. The Online Journalism Blog reports on another step forward in their web publishing:

Sometimes I feel like my vision of the future is slowly coming true in front of my eyes. Yesterday I discovered that the Birmingham Post features writer Jo Ind has started incorporating Del.icio.us social bookmarks into her articles.

Sometime it feels like an uphill struggle just to get journalists to link at all. This sort of progress gives me renewed hope (although, to be fair, that also could be a good night's sleep and some decent coffee...)

links for 2008-04-19

April 18, 2008

The BBC Blogs Beat us to Movable Type 4

BBC Internet BlogNicholas, the chap in charge of the technical side of our MT4 upgrade, emailed this story about the BBC's blog upgrade this morning. They've beaten us to Movable Type 4, probably helped by the cunning use of those good folks at Headshift.

It's nice to see that another big blog platform has been successfully upgraded, though, and I did find their stats interesting. Jem Stone gives their numbers at about 12,000 blog posts - about half of what we've published - and 1 million comments, which is many, many times what we've achieved. That suggests that the Beeb blogs are getting better engagement than us, which wasn't a huge surprise to me. We still have a lot of work to do on creating the sort of blogs people want to engage with, not just read. That said, as a colleague pointed out, the BBC's audience is probably many, many times ours, so in terms of ratio of comments to visitors, we may not actually be doing that badly.

Anyway, congratulations to the folks behind the BBC blogs. And, um, if you hit any major problems, could you warn us in the next week or so? 

links for 2008-04-18

April 17, 2008

MT4: Testing Time for 150 Blogs

MT4 Testing E-mails
Hmm. I haven't updated you all on how the Weeks of Hell are going. And the answer is...

...surprisingly well. We now have a couple of versions of our Movable Type servers fully upgraded to Movable Type 4.1 and running on Linux rather than Windows. We're now in the testing phase, as the little glimpse into my in-box on the right shows. There's two lots of testing happening: each market is testing its blog templates to check that they perform as expected under MT4. And then we're doing some automated stress testing to check that the new server config can stand up to the growing pressure we're seeing on the existing server.

Next week I should be starting training the key bloggers in the new interface, and the new options on offer. So far, there haven't been any major stumbling blocks. Fingers crossed...

Cooking with a Farmer's Wife (from FWi)

Another venture into video from one of our magazines. Farmers Weekly is doing cookery

RBI Blogger on CNN

Flightblogger on CNN
Jon Ostrower, who is our most successful individual blogger as Flightblogger, appeared on CNN a couple of days ago, talking about the recent aviation safety scare in the US.

Nice work, Jon. Shame about the bouffant 'fro. Oh, wait. He's already dealt with that.

links for 2008-04-17

April 16, 2008

I've Just Beaten Myself

Leafshine celebratesA sobering moment: my World of Warcraft blog, which is a "for fun" hobby thing, has just passed this blog in both subscriber numbers and daily visits. I've just overtaken five years of work here with five months of work there.

Ah, well. I should have expected this. Let's face it, more people are interested in gaming than in the intersection of blogging and journalism...

Posting a Blog Post From Facebook

Good morning all.

I'm posting to this blog in a whole new way this morning. I'm actually typing this in Facebook, using the new Blog It Facebook app released by Six Apart over night.

Now, it's not massively sophisticated. No WYSIWYG. No tagging, or categorising. With a bit of luck we'll see some of those levels of sophistication developing as time goes on.

And, much to my surprise, it supports for more platforms than the 6A Trio (Movable Type, Vox and Typepad). You can post to both the .org and .com flavours of WordPress, to Blogger and to Livejournal as well. And you can set it to auto-notify services like Twitter and Pownce when you post.

It's a neat little way of linking your blog and Facebook more closely, though, and that appeals to me.


April 15, 2008

links for 2008-04-15

April 14, 2008

Twitter Beats Facebook (any day)

Nice video from journalism student Alana Taylor:



Sky News Puts London Mayor Polices First

Sky's London Policy site
I do like Sky News's London Election policy quiz. It's a nice idea - you pick which of three policies on 11 topics interests you the most, and it directs you to the candidate you should vote for. I like the way it separates policy from personality and/or habitual party affiliation.

For interest, I got 6 Boris, 3 Ken and 2 Brian. So, in theory, I should be Backing Boris.

April 13, 2008

links for 2008-04-13

April 10, 2008

Lewisham Birdsong

A little spring cheer from my kitchen window this morning:

April 9, 2008

Flickr gets Video

So, Flickr now has video uploading. And, rather curiously, they've restricted video to 90 seconds. That's a good call. It makes their video more akin to long photographs. Something that gives you a "snapshot" of something, but without the time to get too in depth - or too boring.

And talking of boring, here's my test video:



Something more interesting next time. Promise.

Update: Here's one of the spring snow:


Making Journalistic Blogging Useful

Mmmm. There's a delicious, tasty journalistic thought meat from Kevin Anderson over on the Strange Attractor blog. Take this brain canapé:

It's one of the things that many journalists don't do enough of when they blog: Listen. That's one of the important skills for a blogging journalist. Blogging is not just publishing my thoughts. I can do that in any old media. Blogging is about the conversation.

Mmm. Spot on. As is this:

But isn't good journalism supposed to amplify the signal, find it in the noise? Aren't journalists supposed to help find the important data points, turning points to help people and themselves make sense of the world? It's an abdication of our professional responsibility if we stop trying to find the signal and become the noise.

The reason this has so much resonance with me is that all too often I see journalists heading off exactly the wrong path with their blogging. Instead of bringing the focus of their journalistic skills into the conversational publishing arena, I see them bringing the worst aspects of blogging (shrill, unformed opinions) into their journalism. 

And that's a damn shame. Because journalists really to have a role to play in this conversation - to be the fact finders, the assumption-challengers and question-setters. They have a duty to step back from the partisan debate and be the voice summarising, clarifying and fact checking. The full-time professional with a good set of journalistic skills can enrich the debate, but only once they fully take on board the conversational nature of the medium and then work out how best to apply their pre-existing skills to their blogging. 

April 8, 2008

Newspaper History, Wordpress Exploits and Sarah Lacy

Good Lord, nearly 6.20pm and I still haven't done a decent post today. And I was so sure it was going to be a quiet day today. Never mind, here are some hit and run things that caught my attention today:

links for 2008-04-08

April 7, 2008

Your Site Doesn't Have a Homepage. Get Over It.

The one idea I wish I could instil in more people I work with is that the idea of a web site breaks down when that site is content-focused. Or, to put it another way, all the time that you are lavishing on your front page? It's wasted. Because people aren't coming straight to your homepage.

One of my colleagues mentioned this at the editors' conference we had last year, to something akin to a stunned silence. I don't get the impression that her point really sank in with many of the people present. And it's not like it's a new idea. People have been talking about the web's ability to explode conventional content structures for half a decade.

This is, and always was, an inevitable consequence of the structure of the web: the link. Any page can link to any other. And as the social internet has developed we have more and more ways of recommending links to others: e-mail, instant lessening, blogs, bookmarking sites, forums, Twitter, social networks and so on. And that was the point of the video I posted the other day - people aren't going to come and visit you in the same way they pick up and read a magazine, they're going to come to you via a link shared in any number of ways - or through that 800lb gorilla we know as "search",
Continue reading Your Site Doesn't Have a Homepage. Get Over It..

The Best Video of the Olympic Torch Attack

Here's an example of "user-created" video completely putting the professional version to shame. I caught the BBC's footage of the Olympic Flame being snatched from Konnie Huq's hand on News 24, and it was confused and blurred. This is exceptionally clear:

>
[via Sacred Facts]
A nice reminder that the growing ubiquity of good recording devices in the hands of amateurs is going to improve news reporting.

When Servers Go Down

It's going to be a long day: looks like we have a problem with the database server underlying our Movable Type installation, and it's been down for much of the weekend.

Technology is such a bitter-sweet joy, isn't it?

April 4, 2008

On Display in the Quadrant House Foyer

I clearly don't pay enough attention in the mornings. While walking through the foyer of Quadrant House this morning, I finally paid attention to the display you can see in the middle of the photo below:

The Quadrant House FoyerNow what's that iChat-like blue bubble all about? Oh, goody:

Blogging BannerNice to see some prominant recognition for the work we're doing. :)


April 3, 2008

Work Update: Testing Movable Type 4

Planning for TestingAh, first day back at work after several days off sick, and right into server upgrade hell. The good news: we have a fully working "snapshot" upgrade of our current Movable Type Enterprise install into Movable Type 4 with Enterprise Solution. Hurrah.

However, there's something to do before we go live. Testing. (Oh, and training, but that's grist for another post.) We have to do a robust set of tests on this new server configuration, before we push it live. If we don't do it in a structured, formal way, we don't get to push it live.

Now, that's fair. We didn't test the initial install properly when we started, and have been suffering the consequences of some, uh, "challenging" install decisions since. However, reinterpreting testing guidelines designed for software we write ourselves becomes challenging when we're working with bought-in software.After a period of time where we were all talking at cross-purposes, I'm now reasonably confident that we have a plan in progress that will make sure we get the server performance we need. But it's pretty much eaten my day. Ah, well. A late night in the office is to be expected when you've just been off sick for two and a half days.

RBI folks reading this can learn more detail on my internal blog. And the rest of you, uh, can't. That's why it's an internal blog... :-)

April 2, 2008

How News Finds Us - The Social Graph

This is interesting:


It's a nice visual summary both of what this social graph business is all about, where it's going and the desire for people to have a "hub" for it. I'm hoping that the Action Streams plugin I'm using here will move that way for me, but we'll see.

links for 2008-04-02

April 1, 2008

Interview with an Adders

Kristine's recent interview with me is online. It's in Norwegian, though, so I've no idea if she's been nice or not...

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

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