April 2010 Archives
April 29, 2010
April 28, 2010
Fascinating reading from Robin Hamman:
In my post yesterday on using technology and social business strategies to blur the boundaries between inside and outside the business I noted that some of these ideas aren't dissimilar to techniques used by architects to do similar things with internal and external spaces.
I spent quite a while talking to space planners and architects who worked in this sphere back in my GRID editing days. I've been reminded more than once of their thought processes as I investigate out own community building efforts,
The reaction to my recent post to Twitter and politics has been, well, stimulating. By way of exploring this issues raised a little further, I thought I'd run a quick poll:
April 26, 2010
An interesting (and critical) analysis of the shortcomings of the anecdote-based argument style used by Clay Shirky and others:
But stories and analogies should be a starting point for thought, and not its terminus. They should be the spark that prompts more analytical, more rigorous investigation and introspection, testing out your idea to see where it fits reality and where it fails. In this essay, and in some of his others (see below) anecdotes are all there is, and that's just not good enough.
I am a perpetual floating voter. I have political opinions, but no strong party loyalty - and I've voted for all the main parties and some minority ones in the elections I've participated in over the last couple of decades. There's a simple reason for this: I believe that the cut and thrust of discussion is at the root of politics, and the more tribal you are in your politics, the more likely you are to say "Party X must never get into power again", the less likely you are to engage in discussion in a thoughtful, intelligent way.
And this is a rather long-winded way of explaining why I've largely abandoned Twitter during this election campaign. Whereas most of my reading pre-election came from links on Twitter, now most of my stream seems to be filled with tribal posturing and links to "amusing" photoshopping of election posters. It seems to me, well, petty. And not a little childish.
Have I retreated to newspapers? No. The depressing predictability of the tribal voices on our national press has lead to precious little that inspires, informs or educates in them. Instead, I've found myself actively seeking out more intelligent and cogent debate on blogs (including, admittedly, some from national newspaper journalists) and sites specifically dedicated to political discussion like Talk Issues. This is one of those times when the 140 character limit of Twitter works against it. While it's great for sloganeering and creating a comfortable little echo chamber of like political minds, it leaves not room for detail, for debate, for politics. Now some of these blogs are tribal. They are from people of a particular political stripe - but they tend to wear their allegiance openly, and are prepared to engage in genuine debate with people who hold different views to them. And that's the critical difference - genuine engagement in discourse. Frankly, I find it depressing watching social media advocates who normally shout about the conversation to the high heavens suddenly becoming slogan-spouting machines, just because there's an election on.
And so, for now, you'll find me scanning Twitter, but living in my RSS reader and amongst the blogs, where I can actually learn something.
April 21, 2010
On Sunday, I should have been flying back from a conference in Portugal. Instead, I spent the day with an American friend trapped in London. We helped a German family find their way to Waterloo for a trip to the channel ports.
People were marvelling at the plane-free skies, and discussing the long-term implications of the crisis.
And what were the Sunday newspapers reporting? Friday's news.
When the journalistic radar is so detached from the mainstream experience, it's no wonder that we're going through a rough patch as a profession...
LinkedIn has decided to get a little more actively involved in the status update / media-sharing game:
I suspect a lot of people will dismiss this too quickly. Social media types obsess over Facebook and Twitter, but forget that LinkedIn feels more comfortable to many older business types. This could end up being another significant source of traffic from a social network site.
Stuck at home, in bed, making an exciting variety of unpleasant chesty noises. Be glad this isn't an audio blog. Here are some things that have caught my eye:
- Twitter Media - A blog and set of advice from Twitter to journalists about getting the most from the service.
- Do veteran journalists carry an inherent bias? And does social media help redress this?
- Facebook's new Like stream - I think this is more significant than it sounds; it's the first major attempt to aggregate and gain value from high volume activity streams
- While we're on the subject of Facebook, they have new community-managed pages and the beginning of a social graph API
- And here's an interesting essay on books, bookshops, Amazon and ebooks.
April 19, 2010
How do you make your annual press lunch stand out from the pack?
You make the journalists cook it themselves.
April 14, 2010
I find it interesting that, while many journalists try to convince me that we should be pushing towards better and better video kit (where better = more expensive and complicated), many pros are going in the opposite direction.
Image via Wikipedia
For example, the season finale of House is being shot on a Canon 5D digital SLR camera.
Amazon will sell you one of those for £1,700. That's pretty cheap for a TV camera - and you can shoot magazine quality stills with it, too...
April 9, 2010
People pay for a magazine or newspaper because they prefer the experience of holding the paper in their hands over that of reading it online. They pay for all of the abilities that only a physical medium provides: the ability to cut out a recipe from Martha Stewart, the ability open up a newspaper and skim a ton of content effortlessly, the ability to slip it into a bag or carry it with you on the subway without fear of bending, losing or dropping it, and even the ability to display the magazine on your coffee table or save it as a collector's item.Discuss. :-)
Ah, the social media world is full of chit-chat after the felling of a Labour parliamentary candidate by
his own brazen stupidity and contempt for the electorate Twitter.
But, here in sunny Sutton, we've been having a bit of social media fun with a prospective candidate ourselves. I have, on occasions and with tongue firmly in cheek, referred to the Outside Left blog run by Community Care as a "stalking horde to draw out the more extreme of the right wing". That proved to be a remarkably prescient remark.
Last week, UKiP's London chairman and prospective parliamentary candidate jumped into the comments section of a post, leaving this delightful material:
You left-wing scum are all the same, wanting to hand our birthright to Romanian gypsies who beat their wives and children into begging and stealing money they can gamble with, Muslim nutters who want to kill us and put us all under mediaeval Sharia law, the same Africans who sold their Afro-Caribbean brothers into a slavery that Britain was the first to abolish (but you still want to apologize for!)
The team naturally enquired as to whether he was whom he said he was, and when it was clear that the comment was real, made a bit of a fuss, with predictable consequences:
UK Independence Party chief Paul Wiffen has been suspended following his racist rant on Community Care.Oh, and the blogger, Mike McNabb, ended up on TV.
Wiffen has since been reinstated following an apology, which is informative in its own right...
Social media and politicians: a heady brew.
April 8, 2010
Because I can't justify calling it morning or afternoon coffee reading at this time of day...
Two from The Telegraph worth your time:
- Did AOL squander its investment in Bebo? Nice piece of reporting and some insightful quotes from the Headshift folks.
- Does Murdoch Understand Copyright - Shane picks at some recent statements by the Dark Lord of the Paywall, and finds evidence that he doesn't understand the basics of, say, Google...
This High Court ruling should make you think twice before the subbing instinct kicks in and you correct comments.
For the data-and-publishing geeks amongst you: Structured Data and Content Management Systems
And your bonus, end-of-the-day randomness: I love this idea for a blog: food reviews and what to wear while eating it.
(Gaping Void, of course. You can buy prints here)
Once of the worse qualities of social media is its tendency to promote an echo chamber effect. With a wider range of content sources to pick from, people often tend to pick those that reinforce their views rather than challenge them.
And that effect seems to be at work in the journalism blogsphere right now. With a few notable exceptions, I'm seeing the same few issues discussed endlessly in the blogs I have in my journalism category. It's rare that I come across something that provokes me or really makes me think. Perhaps that's because all the people working hardest on this stuff are, well, working hard. And that sometimes leaves little time for blogging. Or maybe we've run out of things to say (unlikely). But right now, I'm finding far more inspiration in stuff outside the journalism blogs.
If you've written something great of late, which I might have missed, feel free to plug it in the comments. :-)
April 7, 2010
A quick plug: tickets are available for the second news:rewired event, which is focusing on niches.
I was a speaker at the inaugural news:rewired event earlier in the year, and I can honestly say it was the most useful and inspirational journalism event I've been to in years. You don't get my wisdom at this particular event, but two of my talented colleagues are speaking there: my boss, Karl Schneider, and Michael Targett (right) of FlightGlobal, one of our teams that has reshaped itself most dramatically for the digital era.
Well worth the admission price, I'd say...
April 6, 2010
I call myself a journalist because I trained in journalism and work in the news industry; I call myself a blogger because I (attempt to) impart or interchange thoughts and opinions via a platform called a blog. I feel defined by both these things, and I believe they are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they are now, more than ever, mutually dependent. And I'm happy about that.
Some heavyweight stuff that's been sitting in my tabs over the holiday weekend:
- A last act of insanity by delusional content companies - Kevin Anderson, who seems to have been liberated to write by taking voluntary redundancy from The Guardian, skewers the pricing models that some publishers are adopting on the iPad - and highlights some innovation, too. (Read the comments, too.) My gut feeling is that Kevin & Suw's blog is going to be essential reading for the next few months...
- Anatomy of incompetence - Talking of insanity, Alan take a book of military theory, and extracts useful learning for hierarchical organisations trying to reshape to adapt to a different battlefield. A bit like the position media companies find themselves in, in fact...
- Collapse of Complex Business Models - And, on a similar note, Clay Shirky who is as much the explicator of the decline of newspapers as its prophet, returns to the theme by looking at the factors of societal collapse and how they can apply to businesses. This essay is the first cogent explanation of why so many media types reach first for "expensive and complex" in an area when "cheap and simple" is the real innovation (like video).
- On a lighter, but rather useful, note, Steph highlights one of the forgotten benefits of blogging - one that I often use. Blogging is the new thinking aloud.
- And, here's a sideways look at user experience: The Impossible Bloomberg Makeover
- To finish, some serious thinking about online business communities.
Hope that was a good, long coffee break...
And they're off. The General Election is confirmed.
I will not be writing about, nor discussing, my politics (such as they are) on this blog in the run-up to the election. I may comment on media coverage of the election, or use of social media by the parties. Any praise of activity should not be construed as support or endorsement of the party, nor should criticism be viewed as antagonism.
If I feel like talking politics, I'll take it elsewhere.
Thought-provoking viewing for your post-Bank Holiday coffee break:
April 2, 2010
April 1, 2010
Paywalls aren't the only "retreat to print structures" model out there. YouTube has launched a new TEXTp format for its videos, that's sure to warm the cockles of every "screw multimedia, words are all that matter" pissed old old-school hack:
The new format isn't available for embedding yet, so check it out here.
And they couldn't have chosen a finer day to introduce this service.